ANDY Murray’s Olympic pin collection is building, as is the momentum of his men’s doubles partnership with Joe Salisbury, writes Tom Harle from Tokyo.
The great Scot was his usual combative self in 6-2 7-6 (7-2) second-round victory over Germany’s Kevin Krawietz and Tim Putz, sealing a quarter-final spot.
After deciding to withdraw from the men’s singles draw, it felt like a vindication of Murray’s belief that the pairing can deliver him a fourth Olympic medal.
“It was very disappointing to withdraw from singles,” he said.
“I’d prepared well, was feeling good again and just had something show up on the scans that we weren’t too happy with.
“When we spoke about playing, I told Joe that if I had any physical issues I’d prioritise doubles over singles and that’s why I made the decision.
“I’d have been annoyed with myself if I’d decided to play with the issue, made it worse, lost my singles and not been able to perform well in the doubles.
“Physically it’ll be OK for the rest of the tournament, but I will need to take a break afterwards.”
Should he win a fourth Olympic gong in the next fortnight, he would be the first person to do so after the sport was reintroduced to the Games in 1988.
It’s a brave man who would bet against it given the confidence with which Murray was moving in the contest that was wrapped up in 95 minutes.
The first set was one-way traffic as they converted two of three break points and turned the screw to triumph in 32 minutes.
The second was tougher and it took more than an hour to break Krawietz and Puetz down but when it came to the crunch, the Brits dominate the tie break.
Murray is a fully-paid up Olympic enthusiast and revealed he’d met the Syrian brothers Maso, with Mohamad representing Syria in triathlon and Alaa swimming for the Olympic Refugee Team.
“We’ve all been in a bit of a competition. We haven’t been given that many pins to exchange, so I’ve been trying to do ‘pins for selfies’ to gain a bit of an edge.
“You end up meeting some interesting people.
“You meet people from all different backgrounds and that’s one of the things I love about this competition. It brings people together from all over the world, from all different backgrounds. It’s brilliant, I love it.”
On the strength of their first-round defeat of the French second seeds, they are avoiding some of the stronger pairings in the progression through the rounds.
Croatia’s Maran Cilic and Ivan Dodig await in the quarter-finals.
Murray was the second-most in demand player at Ariake Tennis Park after Naomi Osaka, whose straight sets exit in the women’s singles third round shocked the host nation.
“I saw the result, I think she finished as we were preparing to go back on after the rain break,” said Murray.
“It’s a bit of a surprise but she’s not played much recently. It’s not easy out there.”
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