Andy Murray in the first round of the 2022 US Open, New York
Andy Murray in the first round of the 2022 US Open, New York | (Photo by Frey/TPN/Getty Images)

Tennis | ATP Doha 2023 | Murray saves five match points to defeat Lehecka, sets Medvedev final

By Tony Fairbairn

  • Andy Murray [WC] def Jiri Lehecka 6-0 3-6 7-6(6)
  • Murray v Daniil Medvedev [3] | H2H: Medvedev leads 2-0
DOHA, QATAR – Andy Murray saved five match points as he edged past Jiri Lehecka in a last set tiebreak to set up a meeting with Daniil Medvedev in the Doha final.


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Andy Murray [WC] def Jiri Lehecka 6-0 3-6 7-6(6)

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Andy Murray is into the Doha final after saving five match points to defeat Jiri Lehecka in three sets. Murray lured everyone into a false sense of security in the opening set as the Brit’s performance gave everyone the impression that he might finally win a straight sets match. Murray overcame Lehecka’s brutal power in the opening set as the Brit’s impressive defence saw him expose the open space in the court left by the Czech Republican.

After breaking in a tight opening game, Murray continued to work the angles especially from the backhand side as he forced Lehecka into some clumsy tactical errors. This allowed Murray to dictate while Lehecka was caught off guard and wasn’t able to implement his powerful style of play. After 32 minutes of play and three breaks of serve, it was the world number 70 who cruised through the opening set without dropping a game as the Australian Open semi-finalist had plenty of work to do.

The opening set seemed to wake up Lehecka in the second set as he produced some impressive and big returning to cause Murray problems. There was big-hitting and resilient defensive shot-making as Lehecka converted break point in the second game and consolidated the break in the next game to take a 3-0 lead.

Murray wasn’t able to wrestle control from Lehecka’s racket but the Brit was able to test Lehecka’s nerve in the seventh game when he created two break points. However Lehecka came up with some big serve and forehand combinations as he held for a 5-2 lead. Despite some impressive court awareness from Murray, Lehecka produced big tennis when it mattered most as he sealed the second set with a forehand return error from Murray.

The momentum carried into the third set as he continued his powerful baseline play and added some impressive net play to his repertoire. Murray’s frustration grew as the Brit couldn’t deny Lehecka’s aggression for long as the Czech Republican grinded out the break for a 2-1 lead. Murray responded in fine fashion as he earned the break back for 2-2 before the Brit was broken again to love as Lehecka continued to be the aggressor in the match.

Lehecka was in full control of the final set as he produced consistent power from the baseline to run Murray ragged with the Czech Republican finishing points off efficiently at the net. All that was needed for Lehecka was to close out the match out but with Murray on the other side of the net that was easier said than done. The Czech Republican let the nerves get the best of him and that allowed Murray to capitalise as the Brit saved five match points and somehow levelled the set at 5-5.

Now it was Murray who had momentum on his side as he won ten of the last 11 points to take a 6-5 lead. Lehecka kept his cool to force a final set tiebreak and the world number 52 was not going to give up without a fight as he saved a match point of his own in the tiebreak. However on the second attempt of closing out the match, Murray sealed victory with a missed Lehecka volley as he produced an incredible comeback to reach his first final since Stuttgart.

After the match Murray admitted it was one of the most remarkable turnarounds of his career, “I don’t know [how I won],” Murray told the ATP website.

“That was one of the most amazing turnarounds I’ve had in my career. You obviously had the three match points at 5-4, but also [two] when I was serving at 5-3, and then I don’t know. I knew it was his first time serving for a final, so I knew I had to try and keep the pressure on at the end. I know how difficult it is to serve matches like that out, but I’ve no idea how I managed to turn that one round to be honest.”


Andy Murray [WC] v Daniil Medvedev [3]   H2H & Match Fundamentals

Andy Murray [WC] v Daniil Medvedev [3] H2H: Medvedev leads 2-0
ATP Doha 2023 Doha, Qatar
Hard (O) Prize Money: $209,445/$122,175
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Murray will now face Daniil Medvedev for the title with the third seed on an eight match winning streak heading into this match.


Tale of the Tape – Key Stats (2023)

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H2H: Andy Murray (WR 70) Daniil Medvedev (WR 8)
Tournament Previous Best Winner (2008, 2009) N/A
1st Serve % 64 67
Service Games Won % 83.5 83.3
Break Points Saved % 64.1 68.2
2nd Serve Return Points Won % 51.4 57
Break Points Converted % 38.8 47.8

Murray will need to improve on serve against the highly efficient and consistent return of Medvedev if he wants to win the title.


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Playing styles and prediction

Medvedev is on an eight match winning streak having won Rotterdam last week and has now continued the momentum into Doha. The third seed has only dropped three sets on his winning streak and has been playing some of the best tennis since winning the US Open in 2021. Now the 27 year-old looks to win his second consecutive title and continue his rise up the rankings.

Murray will need to serve with intelligence and use consistent angles to move Medvedev out of position on the court. Meanwhile Medvedev will look to use his world class return and defence to counter-attack Murray’s attacking threat as well as grinding the Brit down with long rallies. The former champion will need to shorten the points as fatigue could be a factor here but this could be an intriguing and interesting final with both players in good form.

Prediction: Medvedev in three sets.



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