Andy Murray, who’s looked sloppy and out of sorts in today’s Barcelona Open quarterfinal, broke Albert Ramos-Vinolas’s ankles on this point in the final set, and it may have even saved his match. As the chuckling commentators note, this is tennis’s equivalent of a crossover.
To understand the wreckage here, you have to understand the players’ expectations. Because Ramos-Vinolas was stuck in the corner of the court, he expected Murray to play the ball into the huge expanse of open court. “There’s basically nowhere for him hit the ball to my left, and it’d be a much more obvious, safer shot for him to play into all the court I’ve left open, so I might as well start running to the right,” is the thought running through his head, for some reason orienting his directions to the viewer’s perspective to ease their understanding. But Murray toyed with those expectations by blocking the ball right back into the same corner. This forced Ramos-Vinolas to abruptly change direction and nearly tumble into the clay. It’s called “wrong-footing” in tennis, and it rarely results in devastation this severe. God, this man has a family.
Aside from winning him that point and eventually that service game, it helped Murray win the match. Ramos-Vinolas was up a break in the final set, but had take a medical timeout after that game to get his shattered ankles looked at, and his dignity restored. He ended up only getting treatment on the bottom of his foot, possibly for blisters. He then returned to the court, looking visibly hobbled, and lost three games in a row to give up the lead. Murray won 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4).