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Friday, December 3, 2021

Murray beats Sinner to reach quarters


This was Andy Murray’s second victory over a top-10 player this season

Andy Murray knocked out top seed Jannik Sinner to reach the Stockholm Open quarter-finals and said “it’s probably my best win this season”.

The Briton, 34, was fired up and focused against the 20-year-old Italian world number 10 in a 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 win that was one of his finest since his comeback from two hip surgeries.

Murray will face American Tommy Paul for a place in the semi-finals.

“Now I’m in the quarters, I want to have a deep run here,” he said.

Speaking in his courtside interview, a delighted Murray added: “I want to keep it going now.”

Murray’s only other win over a top-10 player this year was against Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in Vienna in October and the Scot has also only reached one other quarter-final on the ATP Tour in 2021 at the Moselle Open in September.

He is joined in the last eight by compatriot Dan Evans, who beat Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6 (7-5) 6-2.

Fourth seed Evans, 31, coming off successive first-round exits in his previous two events, recovered from going a break down in the first set to set up a meeting with American eighth seed Frances Tiafoe.

Murray gathering momentum at end of year

The Stockholm event is set to be Murray’s final one of the year and he has been building on the momentum of the past couple of months.

When he returned to the tour in 2020 after his hip surgeries his comeback was interrupted by a series of niggling injuries, but this year has marked an improvement in terms of being able to string together more tournament appearances.

And with that have also come some impressive performances against some of the young players who have come through in the time since Murray was forced to pause his career when he was at the very top of the sport.

This display against the in-form Sinner was one of them.

He had the stamina to stick out the long rallies in a tight opening set that lasted a lengthy 74 minutes, eventually edging it in a composed tie-break when Sinner double-faulted before firing a shot long.

Murray then missed the chance to go a double break up at 4-2 in the second when after setting up what should have been a routine winner, he fluffed the forehand volley at the net.

He kept his composure, though, even if his regular fist pumps showed how much this match meant to him, and sealed victory on his first match point.

This success comes after a few months when Murray has been pushing some of the top players close, including world number three Alexander Zverev at Indian Wells and world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas at the US Open.

“If I want to move back up the rankings and have good runs in tournaments again, I need to win these matches,” he said.

“I’ve played a lot of guys ranked between three, four in the world to 15, 16 and I have won a couple this year, but I have lost quite a few so it’s good to start to turn those matches around.”

To great applause, he added: “I think I still have a lot to offer. I am still able to compete and win matches against guys that are in the top 10 in the world and I’ve been competitive against guys that are three/four in the world.

“So, if my body stays good and I’m able to build some momentum at more tournaments and matches I believe I can get right up there again,”

If Murray beats world number 52 Paul, he would reach his first semi-final since winning the Antwerp title in 2019.

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