He may not be a household name like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal but Yen-Hsun Lu is the man responsible for one of the more painful defeats in Andy Murray’s career.
Five years ago, Murray turned up in Beijing to play his first Olympic Games and immersed himself in the whole experience: collecting pins, getting pictures taken with other athletes and attending the opening ceremony.
Murray didn’t realise it then but by the time he stepped on the court for his first round match against Lu, he was severely under-prepared for the humidity in the Chinese capital. The man from Chinese Taipei won in straight sets. The man from Great Britain learnt a valuable lesson.
It is a lesson that has stood Murray in good stead. He will step on to No.1 Court today fully prepared for his second-round match against 29-year-old Lu, who is well aware that he is facing a different man to the one he beat in Beijing.
“This is already past for five years,” said Lu. “After I have retired I can start to remember back five years to this victory but for me I have to face the match and how I handle his game. Of course this victory maybe gives me a little bit of confidence, even if it was five years ago.
“He is a great player, everyone knows he has improved so much in this one year - the final at Wimbledon, the Olympics, the US Open, even [at the] Australian Open he played fantastic matches. I don't say he is the No.1, but he can say that and no-one will question that.”
Lu got first-hand experience of the vastly-improved Murray when they faced off in Indian Wells earlier this year, with Murray winning in straight sets. It’s a result which further fuels the doubts in Lu’s mind that he has much chance of causing an upset against the world No.2 today
“If you're asking me right now do I expect to beat him, I say not,” admitted Lu, who is nicknamed ‘Rendy’ after his English teacher struggled to pronounce his name. “But for me, I just try to do my best and I can challenge him. I just try to enjoy it on No.1 Court. Maybe the score that comes in won't be so good but I know that I will try my best.”
Lu, who beat British wild card James Ward in the first round to deny an all-British second round clash, may not presently be playing the best tennis of his life, currently sitting 42 places below his career-high ranking of No.33 in 2010, but he has pedigree on the grass.
Lu reached the quarter-finals here three years ago, beating Andy Roddick in a fourth-round five set epic lasting four hours and 36 minutes, and already has experience of the show courts at the All England Club after losing to Roger Federer in straight sets on Centre Court in the first round in 2009.
But Lu laughed when asked about any weaknesses of Murray’s that he could exploit. “It is tough to say,” he said. “You can say what his weaknesses are, but different players can play against him and maybe your game cannot hurt him.
“You can't say his weakness before you get these points. Roger [Federer] can see when he plays against him his weaknesses and he start to do the other points against him, but [for] some other players, first of all you have to win your games first, to handle it, and then you try to play to his weakness.
“You have to bring your game just to stay with him and this for sure is what I have to do at the beginning. I don't say his forehand is bad, maybe it is weak, but with my serve it doesn't feel weak. Maybe with Roger's serve it feels weak. So you have to see what kind of way he plays at the opening and try to bring his weaknesses out.”
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
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