Andy Murray is into the Doha quarter-finals after battling past Alexander Zverev in a three hour epic. It was the German who made the brighter start to the match, grinding from the baseline and exposing weaknesses in Murray’s game. Zverev broke in the third game for a 2-1 lead before Murray responded back as he tested the German’s nerve under pressure on the second serve. Zverev faltered as the set was back level at 2-2 with Murray showing his aggressiveness on return.
Despite the momentum swing Murray still had to work hard even if he showed his ability to punish Zverev at the net with some world-class passing shots. The Brit saved a break point in the fifth game as it was Zverev’s power and accuracy who managed to control the rallies and dictate the play. Murray did well to move Zverev about and force the errors but in the end it was the German’s power from the court that prevailed towards the end of the set as he broke for a 5-4 lead.
However Zverev’s lack of match practice once again caught up with him as he showed his nerves under pressure. Murray broke straight back to level the set at 5-5 and in his next return game created a set point with some consistent aggression. The German showed his own resilience though as he saved set point to grind out the hold of serve and force a first set tiebreak. A well-contested tiebreak saw Murray player better in the bigger moments as he edged the tiebreak 7-5 in a 76 minute set.
Murray doesn’t do quick matches and that was evident in the second set as he continued to grind away but this time to no end result. The fourth seed remained the fresher player after a mammoth opening set as he produced some big tennis to take a 3-0 lead.
After an attacking opening set it was only natural that Murray would turn to some more passive tennis later which Zverev capitalised on. The Brit’s resilience meant that he saved break point in the sixth game but the double break would occur eventually as Zverev broke for the set, sealing it 6-2 and levelling the match at one set all.
In the final set Zverev was once again in control of most of the rallies with the German producing much better quality from his serve as he was holding comfortably. Meanwhile Murray was struggling to get cheap points from his serve as the Brit was grinding long rallies out, saving two break points in his opening two service games.
As the set drew nearer to a finale both players brought out their best tennis as Murray continued to be clutch on serve to grind out important holds of serve. In the end Murray’s resilience and big mentality prevailed as Zverev faltered when it mattered most in the eleventh game to give the Brit a 6-5 lead. Murray closed out the match to seal a three hour victory and a place in the Doha quarter-finals.
Andy Murray [WC] v Alexandre Muller [Q] H2H & Match Fundamentals
Murray will hope that his serve will continue to thrive in the Doha conditions against the efficient returning of Muller.
Playing styles and prediction
The Frenchman has mainly played his tennis on challengers and hasn’t had the best start to the season so far. However two good wins in Doha could kickstart his season as he looks to enter the world’s top 150 next week. Muller poses good athleticism from the baseline and aggressive returning which will pose a threat to Murray’s consistent serving.
Murray will look to dictate play from the serve and be aggressive from the baseline as he looks to test Muller’s all-court game. The Frenchman will look to make a quick start and be aggressive and proactive from the return as well as test Murray’s backhand slice. This will be a short turnaround for Murray, testing his fitness and stamina but the Brit’s overall experience and quality should prove too much for the raw Frenchman.
As Murray prepares for the last eight, Liam Broady is out in Doha after a straight sets defeat to Daniil Medvedev. Despite breaking Medvedev’s serve in the opening game, Broady was broken on three occasions throughout the opening set as Medvedev used his confidence from Rotterdam into this match.
In the second set Broady served much more consistently but a break in the fourth game for the aggressive Medvedev saw him secure victory and a place in the last eight. Despite the defeat, it’s another positive experience for Broady who looks to climb up the ATP rankings over the coming months.
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