Three-time Shanghai champion Andy Murray had to call on all his experience to down the spirited defence of Juan Ignacio Londero. The clay-courter excited many during the Latin American golden-swing, and he was certainly the more pressing out of the blocks.
Murray had to toil for 14 minutes to hold his first game, and although Murray had his chances to secure the first break, it was Londero that took off at a clip, breaking Murray twice in a row before wrapping up the first set.
Murray turned the tide decisively at the start of the second set, quickly jumping out to a 3-0 lead and continued to keep Londero at bay, before breaking once more for the second set.
Into the decider, Londero’s pace seemed to falter, as Murray started to get on top of him. The Brit was the first to break, and despite getting broken back, Murray came straight back for a 4-2 lead, and kept the pressure on the Argentinian, saving two break points in the final game to take the match.
Murray v Fabio Fognini  | Murray leads H2H 4-3
Next up for the Brit is the the unpredictable Fabio Fognini. The Italian is in with a shout of qualifying for London, and the Nitto ATP Finals, and so will be looking to even up his head to head over the returning Murray.
Fognini has only one win over Murray on a hard court. His other two victories have come on clay, but he will be looking to make Murray run all day long. What we are expecting a battle between two classic counterpunchers, and again Murray might have to adapt his game to shorten the points as Fognini will try and work him hard.
Fognini’s languid style belies his ability to turn defence into attack, and of course there could be that ever-present that exists in his game. Murray needs his serve to be working and will be putting his hip to the ultimate test.
The Italian is coming off a quarter-final in Beijing, and this is not an easy task for the Brit as he continues his comeback.
Talking to ATPTour.com, Murray said: “I have always had tough matches with him. He’s not an easy guy to play against. Unbelievably talented guy. Good hand skills. Moves well. A little bit up and down sometimes in his matches, but he’s playing really well.
“I think each week I have been feeling good, better. In the beginning I didn’t necessarily feel good. But last couple of weeks have been, I think, much improved. My movement overall has been very good in comparison to what it was over in the States, and I’m hoping that’s something that can get a little bit better.”
Prediction: Fognini in three sets.
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Things were a lot more straight forward for Cameron Norrie coming in through qualifying to a first round match-up against Gilles Simon. It has been noticeable over the last few weeks, Norrie’s ability to grind it out with the best of them is right up there.
Against Simon, Norrie was immediately under pressure in his first service game, having to deflect two break points, before breaking for an early lead. The Frenchman levelled further along in the set, but Norrie kept his nerve, breaking at the end of the set before serving for it.
All resistance from the Frenchman was gone from the start of the set, as Norrie swiftly leapt out to a 4-1 lead. Simon got one of the breaks back, but handed it back straight away, as Norrie looked confident in closing out the match.
Next up is a major challenge as Norrie faces arguably the in-form player in the latter half of the year, US Open finalist Daniil Medvedev. The Russian went on quite the tear in the summer, ending up in the first of what is bound to be many Slam finals.
Having made five back to back finals, winning two of them, Medvedev wisely decided to have a rest before the Shanghai Masters and he has not struck a ball yet in Asia. While Norrie has been pretty busy, Medvedev will be rested up and ready for a final push, already assured of his spot in London.
Norrie’s sticking power will have to be at his very best. The Russian likes nothing better than going toe-to-toe from the baseline but Norrie’s chances will come if he can get him on the move.
There was less good news for the outgoing British No. 1 Kyle Edmund. Defending quarter-final points here, he crashed out to qualifier Jeremy Chardy in straight sets. It was a tight start for the pair before Chardy took full advantage of his break point chance, and Edmund failed to capitalise on his own chance to break back.
After Chardy wrapped up the first set, Edmund looked a little more settled in the second set, and it was a far more competitive affair. Again, the Brit had a chance for a lead but could not quite convert, as the pair headed for a tie-break.
Very quickly, though, the momentum switched to the Frenchman, who quickly built up a 3-2 lead winning the next three points on the bounce and taking the match.
Dan Evans has arguably been the most consistent British male this year, and in the absence of Norrie making a tremendous run here, he will gain the British No. 1 spot. Edmund looks set to fall out of the Top 50 and will not be heading to Antwerp to defend his maiden title.
Having had one coach retire and the other suggest they part ways, Edmund has looked a little rudderless and lost, and a major reset is required ahead of the new season. A good coach is a must, but he needs to regain a lot of confidence – he dropped down to the Challenger level in the spring and it served him well. He needs more of the same.
Murray and Fognini are scheduled on Show Court 3, not before 5:30pm (10:30am BST), Norrie and Medvedev are scheduled on Centre Court 1, not before 8pm (1pm BST)
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