Andy Murray edged into the second round in Doha after saving three match points against Lorenzo Sonego. The Brit was playing his first match since reaching the third round at the Australian Open but made the worst possible start to the match as he was broken to love which was sealed by a double fault.
Sonego capitalised on the momentum by serving big and hitting some powerful backhands from the baseline, producing an aggressive style of play. Murray had no real answer on return to Sonego’s front-foot tennis despite gaining some rhythm and momentum on serve. After 37 minutes, the Italian sealed the opening set with a backhand winner which caught Murray off balance as the Brit had plenty of work to do to turn this match around.
However if there’s one thing that was observed in Melbourne, it was never count Murray out and the Brit snatched the momentum from Sonego at the start of the second set. After holding in the opening game, Murray secured the crucial break of serve in typical Murray fashion as a stretched forehand passing shot winner claimed the crucial break for 2-0.
The Brit went from strength to strength after that as he moved Sonego all around the court with the Italian conceding too much space for Murray to hit into. Some incredible returning saw Murray seal the double break as the backhand did most of the damage, neutralising Sonego’s consistency. A forehand volley winner secured the second set 6-1 as Murray forced a deciding set.
Murray continued the momentum into the final set as he started by creating a break point in the opening game. However Sonego remained resilient and displayed some impressive power to hold serve. The Brit responded with a tight hold of serve of his own before setting up smart and efficient patterns of play to produce comfortable holds of serve.
The Italian was just as dominant on serve as he continued to apply the pressure with some powerful forehands from the baseline. As the set continued, Sonego became more confident in his returning as he created three match points in the tenth game with Murray lacking that clinical finishing on serve. However Murray’s resilience paid off as some big serving and some gritty baseline defence saw him save all three match points to hold for 5-5.
Nothing could separate both players as this high-quality final set would be decided on a tiebreak. The Italian made an aggressive start to the match as he raced to a 3-0 lead but Murray would have the final say as he produced some impressive returning under pressure to seal six points in a row. Murray finished another impressive victory with a backhand volley as he secured a place in the second round.
Andy Murray [WC] v Alexander Zverev  H2H & Match Fundamentals
Murray will look to use his serving and returning efficiency to his advantage when he takes Zverev, who is short on confidence at the moment.
Playing styles and prediction
Zverev is looking to build his confidence back up after missing the last eight months on the tour due to injury. The German will hope that he is in a position where he can challenge for the big titles and regain his place in the world’s top ten by the second half of the season as he looks to gain more time on the match court.
Murray will look to anticipate Zverev’s serves well and make a high percentage of returns as he looks to test the German’s fitness. Meanwhile Zverev will look to dictate the tempo of the match on his serve and be proactive from the baseline especially from the forehand. The Brit’s recent match fitness and confidence may prove decisive here but Zverev certainly has the skillset to power past anyone on his day which is what makes this match so intriguing.
Dan Evans continued his poor start to the season in Doha as he fell to a straight sets defeat to Emil Ruusuvuori. After an exchange of breaks to love at the start of the match, Evans produced a poor service game in the eighth game as Ruusuvuori took a 5-3 lead. The sixth seed responded well though as a good return game ensured he would delay the ending of the set as he narrowed the deficit to 5-4. However Ruusuvuori would break for the set in twelfth game as he took the opening set in 59 minutes.
There was a much better start to the set for Evans in set two as he only conceded two points on serve in his opening three service games. However the Brit had no impact on return and despite saving three break points in the eighth game, Evans couldn’t prevent Ruusuvuori’s attacking tennis for long. The world number 51 broke for the match as Evans will look to improve in Dubai next week.
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