Andy Murray came close to his first clay court final since last year’s Roland Garros, but ultimately felt the pressure in a close three-sets loss to the No.4 seeded Dominic Thiem in the Barcelona Open.
The World No.1 was broken three times in the first set, which gave his opponent the opening set with relative ease. Murray responded and upped his concentration in the second set by committing less unforced errors and engaging in elongated rallies with Thiem. Murray levelled the match with much more positive play.
Thiem had lost the two previous hard court meetings against Murray, but looked much closer to home on the red clay of Barcelona and it showed in his performance. The former Roland Garros semi-finalist profited from some mistimed forehands from the Briton and some lacklustre serving throughout as the Austrian scored his first win over the current Wimbledon champion.
Murray got valuable match-time on the red clay, which is ideal for his preparation for French Open. But he really did miss out on the chance to test himself against the nine-time French Open winner on the dirt, which is something Murray definitely would have been looking for at the beginning of the tournament.
There are still a lot of questions surrounding Murray. Apart from winning Dubai, Murray’s year has not been great by his standards as he prepares to defend a lot of points over the course of the big clay events in Madrid, Rome and the French Open.
Aljaz Bedene vs Lucas Pouille  – H2H: Pouille leads 1-0
Aljaz Bedene‘s fantastic run of results on clay keeps getting better as he advanced to his first ATP Final and will now play the No.1 seed Lucas Pouille tomorrow. The British No.4 is now on a 16 match winning streak, which includes two title wins on the Challenger Circuit. Tomorrow is not just a regular ATP final for Bedene. A win would take him above his career high ranking of No.45 in the world and that would move him ahead of British players Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans.
Pouille has an explosive game and he has the ability to take the racquet out of his opponent hands and I feel he may have too much power for Bedene on the day.
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