Doha | Murray and Broady battle into second round

The two Brits in action on the opening day of the men’s Qatar Exxonmobil Open in Doha enjoyed success, namely the wildcarded Andy Murray and the qualifier Liam Broady after both players scrapped their way into he second round with three set victories.

It was really tough. We never played together, or practised with each other before, so I didn’t know exactly how the match was going to go and it took a while to get used to his game Andy Murray

For Murray, a former world No.1 and twice champion of Doha, it was his first appearance on court since the Australian Open, the encounter with Italian Lorenzo Sonego brought out the best in the Brit currently ranked 70.

Having never played Sonego before, it took him a set to work out the Italian’s weak spots before he was able to settle into a winning rhythm but even so, his opponeent was able to react to provide an exciting finale in a match which could have gone either way.

Murray though prevailed 4-6 6-1 7-6(4) after saving three match points and trailing 3-0 in the deciding tiebreak to book a place in the last 16 where he will face Germany’s Alexander Zverev, the fourth seed who had an opening round bye.

“It was really tough. We never played together, or practised with each other before, so I didn’t know exactly how the match was going to go and it took a while to get used to his game,” Murray admitted.

“He’s a very aggressive player, takes a lot of chances, but it’s high-risk tennis. He rolled the dice at the end, and it looked like he had the momentum. But thankfully in the mid-part of that tie-break he made a couple of mistakes and I managed to turn it around.”

Murray had got off to a disastrous start, losing his opening three points on serve before handing Sonego an early break with a double fault which was all the Italian needed to pocket the opening set.

The former champion got off to a flying start in the second with a love hold and a break, eventually coming out on top of an epic deuce game to convert his fourth break point chance and then quickly held his nerve to sweep through the second set and go 5-0 up before levelling the match with his first ace of the encounter.

Sonego responded well in the third as the decider settled with both players holding their respective serves comfortably into a pattern as both players held comfortably with the Italian leading by serving first.

In the 10th game Murray recovered from 15-40 down saving two match points and then another before holding what was a huge opportunity for his opponent.

The match was eventually settled by a tie-break where Sonego set the pace taking a 3-0 lead but again the Scot showed his gritty resolve by roaring back and taking the next six points in a row before sealing the breaker after two-hours and 29-minutes and advance into round two.

Looking ahead to his meeting with Zverev, Murray said on court: “He’s obviously one of the top players in the world,

“He had a bad injury at [Roland Garros] last year and is just coming back from that. He’s going to be improving every week just now. He’s not quite at the level he was back in the middle of last year, but injuries like that take time. It will be another great match, hopefully I can keep building on this one.”

Also through to the second round is Britain’s No.6, world ranked 147, who battled his way into the main draw where he also had to recover from dropping a set after getting off to a brilliant start by bagelling his Ukrainian opponent, Oleksil Krutykh and then requiring a deciding set tiebreak to resolve the outcome.

He won after two-hours and 28-minutes, 6-0 4-6 7-6(2) to face the third seed Daniil Medvedev in round two, the Russian having received a bye and riding high after winning in Rotterdam last Sunday.

Two Aussies also progressed, Jason Kubler and Christopher O’Connell, the former advancing when Aslan Karatsev retired with the score standing at 7-6(4) 1-0 and the latter defeating the veteran Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-1 3-6 6-0.

Dan Evans is the third Brit who is playing in Doha and he will be in action against the Finn Emil Ruusuvuori on Tuesday.



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