Record breaking Spanish streak ends at 45-0
For the first time in nearly three years, World No. 2 Daniel Páez Blanco
has been defeated on clay as American Dwayne Murdoch
romped to a historic straight sets win on a sunny day Monte Carlo.
After a week of drizzle, the gods seemed to be on Murdoch's side as the sun dried Centre Court up considerably to give him a faster surface to work with. While Blanco had struggled with Becker Haas had troubled Blanco on Thursday, it was clear from the word go that Murdoch would pose an even bigger challenge as the Season I French Open semi finalist took break of serve in the first game of the match with a crushing backhand down the line
Question marks over the Spaniard's fitness continued to arise as he failed to run down balls he'd normally get, but down 4-5 he showed his trademark fight to string four points together on Murdoch's serve to level the score at five each. But after saving three set points in the tiebreaker with typical resilience, Blanco could not outlast the World No. 12 who claimed the first set 7-6.
The second set was a more cagey affair as Blanco began to work his way into the match. Still, though, Murdoch resisted with his offensive shot making causing the World No. 2 huge difficulties on both flanks. With the set evenly poised at 5-5, Murdoch survived a break point to hold serve in an important game with yet another double-handed backhand down the line. Just minutes later, Blanco found himself at 15-40 trying to keep his 45-match PTA streak alive.
He couldn't do it. A good first serve was just
returned by the third highest ranked American on the planet and Blanco put what should have been an easy forehand approach shot into the net to secure his exit 6-7(6), 5-7
The American was understandably elated following his victory, while the humble 31-year old Spaniard looked deflated as he congratulated Murdoch. While he may now stand at 45-1, the defending Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, Madrid and Roland Garros champion cannot be counted out of the next six weeks.