Andy Murray edged out Russian qualifier Roman Safiullin in three sets to reach the second round in Basel. It was no easy match for Murray as Safiullin produced some big hitting early on and causing the three-time Grand Slam champion trouble with his big serve. The Russian’s quick start was rewarded with a break to love in the fourth game as he powered his way to a 3-1 lead.
However, the break deficit was quickly restored by Murray as he used some good angles and effective point construction to earn the break back with Safiullin committing too many unforced errors. Both players quickly restored order on serve with their being very little opportunities on return to earn the crucial break with Murray struggling to dictate play on return.
Therefore, the opening set went to a tiebreak and despite getting into an early lead, Murray couldn’t find the consistency to sustain his level. That allowed Safiullin back into the tiebreak and the qualifier took his opportunity to edge the tiebreak 7-5 and take a one set lead.
Safiullin took the momentum into the second set where Murray was forced to bring out his best tennis in the big moments as he denied the Russian the break in the third game. After saving five break points, it was Murray’s turn to be the more proactive player and in the sixth game some consistent baseline play saw him break for a 4-2 lead. That was the turning point that Murray craved in the second set as an ace sealed the second set and ensured this match was heading towards a deciding set.
In the final set, Safiullin once again took early control of the set as he forced errors from Murray’s game to edge out the break for a 3-1 lead. Just like the second set, Murray eventually found his rhythm and came back into the match with the Russian’s underarm serve on break point down ending with a poor volley at the net as Murray gained the break back.
A second consecutive break of serve to Murray’s delight soon followed and the Brit closed out the match to 15 to secure a hard-fought win as well as a place in the second round.
Andy Murray v Roberto Bautista Agut  H2H & Match Fundamentals
Despite some good weeks on clay and grass courts, Bautista Agut has produced a disappointing season by his standards and will want to build momentum over the next couple of weeks heading into next season. The Spaniard’s accurate serving and shot-making can be an awkward match for any player on the tour.
Murray will need to serve well and be aggressive with his decision-making if he wants to have any chance of winning this match. Bautista Agut will take advantage of the faster court surface with accurate serving and powerful baseline play. This will be a tough match physically and tactically for Murray as it is no easy task to break down the Spaniard’s game. Either way it’s the perfect test for the Brit to see where he is at physically heading into the off-season.
As Murray prepares for the second round, Jack Draper exited the tournament in the first round despite a valiant effort against world number one Carlos Alcaraz. Draper was the dominant player in the opening set as he exposed space into the court to hit winners in with the Brit breaking twice to win the first set.
Alcaraz proved why he is a Grand Slam champion though as the Spaniard went up an early double break at 3-0 and never really looked back, playing some inspiring tennis to force a deciding set. Despite going down a break in the fifth game, Draper refused to give up and broke back for 4-4 in what was turning into a mouth-watering contest.
In the end, Alcaraz’s quality came through and the Spaniard’s break in the eleventh game ensured that he edged to victory, converting his third match point. Next up for Draper, it’s the last event of the year in Paris next week where he will play qualifying.
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