Andy Murray needed over two hours and three sets to beat local favourite Robin Haase 2-6, 7-6, 6-3 to book his spot in the second round of the Rotterdam Open.
The former world No.1 was pushed to his limits both mentally and physically as he let out bursts of frustration throughout the match. Twice he was forced to come back from behind after dropping the first set and then falling behind 0-3 in the decider. Following the victory, which is Murray’s first on the ATP Tour this season, the Brit spoke to the media.
“From the mental side I did really well to win because I was really struggling with my game for probably about an hour and a half of that match, haven’t really felt like that many times in my career, I was mistiming the ball and it was very strange and I didn’t know what quite to do out there.”
Despite all that he was able to pull it off and he described what it took to get the win.
“When I served I felt like I was making the right decisions, I was just mistiming the ball, wasn’t coming off my racquet like usual and didn’t return well and than I found a way and than at the end found a way to play a bit better so from the mental side and the physical side was positive, I think I moved pretty well and played for two and a half hours and my hips and groin felt good so that was positive but from the tennis side it was average at best”
He also spoke of what he is going through with all the critics and the struggles he has gone through.
“Everytime I lose a match everyone thinks that I’m being told to retire and to stop playing and that I’m finished and that I have nothing left and it’s sad and all of these things and it’s not easy. I’m playing for my career just now each time I step on the court it’s extra stress, there’s a bit of extra doubt there and on top of that I’m playing with a metal hip which is hard, trust me it’s not easy. It’s a big challenge for me and the last few months have been a bit of a struggle.”
Murray also added if he knew how close he was to losing and that he would be risking another week of matches and if he felt it slipping by.
“There’s all sorts of things that go into this, I wanna play and I wanna win and I wanna play well and the things I’m doing well on the practice court I want to do them in the matches and it’s tricky”
He did admit that what he went through at the beginning of the season was hard for him mentally. Murray missed the Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19. Instead he started his season at a Challenger event in Italy.
” t was tough like maybe it was tougher mentally than I though and it affected my practices and I was extremely flat and that doesn’t help when your going into matches, you need to be on point”
The Scott believes his latest match could be the push he needs to keep going.
“Tonight’s (Monday’s) match can help a lot and things could turn around quick getting through that obviously you lose the match again it would be like ” what’s he doing out here” to get through it is a good effort, found a way played some good stuff at the end and physically was good but the tennis needs to improve”.
Murray could potentially face Andrey Rublev in the next round and was asked about his development.
“I played him when he was very young at the Australian Open and he went for it and hit the ball big even back then, he physically was not that strong then but I think he’s worked really hard on that side of things, I’ve practiced with him quite a few times“.
Nikoloz Basilashvili survives scare in Sardinia
The third day of the Italian 250 event saw a trio of seeded players secure their places in the quarter-finals.
A strong Mediterranean wind was not enough to blow away Nikoloz Basilashvili at the Sardegna Open as he came through a tense 3-setter against Slovakian qualifier Jozef Kovalik.
The fourth seed’s typically aggressive style at times threatened to prove his undoing in Cagliari. A topsy-turvy encounter in blustery conditions was ultimately defined by the marathon tenth game in the deciding set, Kovalik missing five match points as his opponent’s serve just about held firm. Basilashvili then immediately broke himself, going on to complete a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, victory.
He will take on Jan-Lennard Struff in the quarter-finals. The fifth seed overpowered Britain’s Liam Broady 6-4 6-2, a much-improved performance from the German after his nervy first-round slugfest with Joao Sousa.
Qualifier Broady, whose strong start to the year has seen him reach a career-high ranking of 152, started well. He broke the fifth seed in the second game, but Struff was able to respond immediately before going on to take the first set 6-4. The Brit faded in the second set, Struff’s superior ranking showing as he overpowered his opponent with some brutal forehands and booming serves. If both men bring their best form, his match-up with Basilashvili on Friday should be an entertaining encounter.
Elsewhere, Aljaz Bedene defeated Egor Gerasimov 6-4, 7-6(5). Fresh from an impressive win over Guido Pella in round one, qualifier Gerasimov would have had high hopes to progress further, facing an opponent ranked only 22 places higher. It looked good for the Belarussian as he edged a break ahead early on, but the ever-reliable Bedene reeled off three games in a row to take the first set. A similarly tight second set looked to be going Gerasimov’s way when he stormed to a 4-0 lead in the tie break, but Bedene once again took charge, winning 7 of the next 8 points to book a spot in the next round.
His opponent there will be second seed Taylor Fritz, who enjoyed a relatively easy ride in the final match of the day. He breezed through the opening set against Andrej Martin 6-2, looking strong in his first outing on clay in 2021. The players traded two breaks each in the second set before Fritz took the tie break 7-4. This week is the first tournament Fritz is playing as American No.1 after recently overtaking John Isner.
Roger Federer Set To Start Clay Campaign In Madrid
The world No.7 will be back on the Tour shortly as he seeks his first title since the 2019 Swiss Indoors.
20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is set to return to competitive tennis later this month after being included in the entry list for a key Masters 1000 tournament.
The former world No.1 is currently down to play the Madrid Open which will start on April 30th and takes place over 10 days. Federer returned to the Tour at the Dubai Tennis Championships last month in what was his first tournament in over a year due to a knee injury which required two operations. In Dubai he reached the quarter-finals before losing to Nikoloz Basilashvili who went on to win the title.
Since then the Swiss maestro has returned to the practice courts to “work his way back out on tour,” according to his agent Tony Godsick. Federer has already confirmed that he will play on the clay this season but admits that it is because he has little choice. The 39-year-old has already stated that his goal is to be in top shape in time for the grass-court swing which starts after the French Open.
“What comes before the grass courts are the clay courts,” Federer told reporters on March 11th. “So I have no choice but to play on clay if I want to play matches.
“The clay could be good or bad for me. I will only know in practice, but I don’t think it’s going to be bad. I assume I will play some clay.”
It isn’t the first time Federer has started his return to the clay in Madrid. In 2019 he played his first match on the surface in almost three years at the tournament after skipping the clay-court season the two previous years.
Also on the Madrid entry list is Federer’s rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal who both missed the Miami Open. Dominic Thiem is also set to play in the tournament after he recently announced a delay to his return to professional tennis because he isn’t ready to compete yet.
The Madrid Open has been largely dominated by the Big Four (including Andy Murray) for more than a decade. Since 2008 only one player outside of the quartet has won the title which was Alexander Zverev back in 2018. Last year’s edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rafael Nadal Will Be Ready For Start Of Clay Season, Says Doctor
A member of Nadal’s team has issued some encouraging news.
It appears that Rafael Nadal’s recent woes are behind him as he looks to get back on track at next week’s Monte Carlo Masters.
The 34-year-old hasn’t played a tournament since his loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open earlier this year. Throughout the first quarter of the season Nadal has been troubled by a back problem which he first picked up in Melbourne. The injury forced him to pull out of both the Rotterdam Open and Miami Masters. Overall, he has played just five matches so far in 2021.
Nadal will be looking to regain momentum on his beloved clay. A surface which he has won 60 ATP titles on, including a record 13 French Open trophies. According to his doctor, Ángel Ruiz-Cotorro, the world No.3 is ‘training well’ at present.
“He is training well, he is training hard. His goal is clay. First is Monte Carlo and his final goal is Roland Garros. It is clear,” Cotorro told RTVE.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion will be seeking his 12th title in Monte Carlo in what is a tournament record. He has won three out of the four past editions with the only exception being Fabio Fognini who won the title in 2019. Last year’s tournament was axed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking further on in the calendar, Nadal is expected to play tournaments in Barcelona, Madrid and Rome before the French Open which is set to start in May. Although it is possible that his commitments could change. A member of the French government has also admitted that it is possible that Roland Garros could be delayed for a second year in a row due to the pandemic but no such change has been formally announced.
So far in his career Nadal has won 86 ATP titles and earned more then $123 million in prize money. He is only the fourth player in the Open Era to have won 1000 or more matches on the men’s Tour.
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