The last time this pair played each other, the young Frenchman Mathias Bourgue had Andy Murray go the distance to advance on his favoured clay. On an indoor hard court, without anywhere near the weight of ball that he had encountered against Maximilian Marterer and Blaz Rola, Murray could pick and choose his spots as he raced through the first set without dropping a game.
It was a lot more competitive from the Frenchman with the first points falling to Bourgue but deftly defended by Murray. He went on to break Bourgue again, but this time found himself pegged right back. Bourgue actually had a set point of his own, which barely seemed conceivable in the first set, but just could not get over the line.
That might have weighed on his mind, as Murray blitzed through the next game, breaking him to love before serving out for a spot in the final.
Once more, Murray will face someone he has only faced in a Slam – having beaten Illya Marchenko twice at the Australian Open. Maybe not being in Melbourne will provide extra motivation for him.
So far the Ukrainian has had just one test coming through to the final, as has Murray. Prior to the madness of lockdown, Marchenko’s ranking has pitched him firmly in the land of Challengers and indeed in 2019, he was dropping down to a Futures event.
Marchenko might choose to try the same strategy as he employed against Murray in the early slam rounds to go for huge shots early in the rally. He had a tendency to swing big on Murray’s first serve returns and second serves to try and play first strike tennis, but that can come with its own perils.
Expect him to try the same, and indoors without the benefit or impact of outside weather, he might cause Murray a few issues but experience should shine through.
Prediction: Murray in three sets.
Murray and Marchenko are scheduled on PalaPajetta Court, not before 4:30pm (3:30pm GMT).
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