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Murray advances at Western & Southern Open

Murray advances at Western & Southern Open
Andy Murray returns a shot to Alexander Zverev during the second round at the Western & Southern Open in New York.
Washington, Aug 25 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 8/25/2020 12:32:59 PM IST

Andy Murray claimed the biggest win of his comeback and a place in the last 16 of the Western and Southern Open on Monday by taking out self-destructing fifth seed Alexander Zverev 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.

Murray offered hope he was on the right track after his injury woes with a tidy first-round win over Frances Tiafoe on Saturday but it is Monday’s win over the big-hitting German that will provide a huge confidence boost in the run-up to the U.S. Open that starts next week.

Neither player will include the contest in their career highlight reels, particularly a scrappy third set that was riddled with unforced errors and momentum swings.

Murray jumped ahead 4-1 in the third but was left mumbling and scolding himself as Zverev broke the Briton twice on his way to sweeping the next four games and taking a 5-4 lead.

But serving for the match Zverev double-faulted three times to gift Murray a break and extend the match. Murray then held serve and finished off the crumbling German, with the help of two more double faults, with a final break to register his first win over at top-10 ranked opponent since 2017.

“It was a big one to get through,” said Murray. “I’m satisfied to get through it against a top player having not played for such a long time and I get another opportunity to compete again tomorrow.”

“This will give me an idea of where my body is at,” said Murray, a past winner of the tournament, which is normally held in Cincinnati but was moved this year in order to get players inside a ‘bubble’ ahead of the U.S. Open.

Next up for Murray is Milos Raonic, who advanced with a 6-3 7-5 victory over Dan Evans.

Meanwhile, world No.1 Novak Djokovic didn’t have the luxury of easing back into tournament play in his first match back since the end of the ATP Tour suspension due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Djokovic had to fight it out against Lithuania’s former junior World No. 1 Ricardas Berankis and he eventually triumphed 7-6(2), 6-4 to improve his perfect record in 2020 to 19-0.

The Serb, who became the first singles player in history (since 1990) to capture all nine ATP Masters 1000 titles when he defeated Federer in the 2018 Cincinnati final, has advanced to the third round where he will face American Tennys Sandgren.

Serena through to 3rd round

Serena Williams shook off some COVID-19 layoff rust to grind out a 7-6(6), 3-6, 7-6(0) win over Dutch qualifier Arantxa Rus on Monday to move into the third round. Williams’ matches are usually a huge drawcard but with no fans allowed there was an atmosphere of relief rather than excitement after her hard-fought victory.

Japan’s Naomi Osaka, competing in her first WTA singles match since the season resumed, battled past Karolina Muchova 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2 to set up a clash with Dayana Yastremska. She was joined in the third round by former champion Victoria Azarenka, who staved off a late comeback attempt by Caroline Garcia to prevail 6-2 7-6(8). 

By the time Williams arrived on court to face her 72nd ranked opponent, she was the highest seed left in the women’s draw after number one Karolina Pliskova and number two Sofia Kenin lost their opening matches on Sunday. Monday marked the first exhausting day in what could be a three-week tennis marathon for the 38-year-old Williams, who will be bidding to end her long search for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open.

 

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