Andy Murray began his preparations for the 2022 season with a straight sets victory over Dan Evansin the Middle East. It was the three-time grand slam champion who was dominant throughout, using some aggressive tactics on serve and return to force errors from Evans. A tame forehand into the net from Evans saw Murray take an early break lead and the Scot continued to apply the pressure with some insane defensive shots in rallies.
A double-break was secured with Evans producing another forehand unforced error to lose his service game to love. However as we saw in 2021, Murray lacked that killer instinct to finish the set off at 5-1 as Evans remained patient in long rallies to start a mini-comeback. Evans started to have a good balance between slice and power as he looked to be more patient in rallies. Despite having two break points, the world number 26 couldn’t get back on serve and Murray clinched the opening set with a backhand unforced error from his opponent.
From then on it was all about Murray as his mix of patience and aggression paid off as he sealed a fairly easy double break against an error-prone Evans. Despite Murray conceding one of the breaks back to love in the fourth game, the world number 134 went back onto the attack to break in the next game and virtually clinch victory. The former world number one clinched victory with a powerful wide serve as he got his pre-season off to a positive start.
As for Evans, he will hope to play a little bit better when he takes on Taylor Fritz in a 5th place play-off on Friday.
Andy Murray v Rafael Nadal H2H & Match Fundamentals
Injuries once again plagued Nadal’s season with the Spaniard unable to win his coveted Roland Garros title in 2021. The Spaniard has been practicing hard in Spain and Kuwait ahead of the exhibition and will look to put his game to the test in the Middle East ahead of the Australian Open, where he looks for a record-breaking 21st grand slam title.
Murray’s defence will need to be another level to defeat Nadal in a match that brings out so many memories for both players in the past. The key for the match is how both players’ serve is going to hold up with both players favouring their return game in recent matches. The slower conditions give the Spaniard the edge but it should be an entertaining battle in the Middle East.
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