BIELLA, ITALY – It seems to be ghosts of Slams past for Andy Murray as he takes on Mathias Bourgue in the semi-final of the Biella 1 Challenger.
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Recap: Andy Murray [1/WC] def. Blaz Rola  6-4, 7-6(9)
There were distant memories of a time gone past as Andy Murray sized up Blaz Rola in the quarter-final of the Biella 1 Challenger. The same hard-hitting style was there, more potent indoors if anything, given Rola’s inexperience on grass the first time they met, and Murray was engaged in a more cat-and-mouse (with heavy hammers!) encounter than perhaps he originally anticipated.
Trading breaks at the start, Murray found himself with eight more chances to break Rola in the next couple of service games and couldn’t convert, which vexed him a lot! Eventually he grabbed a ninth chance to nudge ahead in the penultimate game.
Murray got the first break in the second set, again after squandering three chances to break Rola in the opening game, and even had a chance to break on match-point which Rola saved, before breaking Murray as he served for them match, saving two more match points in the process.
Murray was in full on confrontational mode with the umpire over dubious line-calls in a heated and topsy-turvey tie-break. Rola leapt out to a 5-1 lead and it was his turn to watch his set points come and go as Murray saved four of them, before getting another couple of match points of his own before closing out the match.
H2H & Match Fundamentals
Andy Murray [1/WC] v Mathias Bourgue
H2H: Murray leads 1-0
ATP Challenger 80 Biella 1
Prize Money: €2,160
Third on PalaPajetta Court, not before 4:30pm (3:30pm GMT)
So in a second encounter with Slam opponent of the past, Murray will be reminded of the time Mathias Bourgue came into Roland Garros as a wildcard, and came from a set and a break down to take Murray the distance in just the second round, back in 2016.
At the time, Bourgue clicked into to gear, able to fire off both wings and often the pace he could generate on the backhand side in particular would catch Murray out, coupled with a dangerous forehand, but when it came to being in sight of the finish line, the combination of Murray’s experience and the enormity of the task took its toll.
Obviously, a lot has moved on since then – Murray’s injury woes for one- but for Bourgue, apart from a smattering of tour events, he has mainly stuck to plying his trade on the Challenger Tour and even has dropped down to Futures since their meeting five years ago.
They have both come through tight straight sets wins and a three setter this week, so the playing field is even, if we take out the gulf in experience. The expectation will be all on Murray and wonder if that contributed to some of the stress we saw in his match with Rola.
Prediction: Murray in three sets.
Murray and Bourgue are scheduled on PalaPajetta Court, not before 4:30pm (3:30pm GMT)
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