Dubai | Murray scores his 500th victory.

Andy Murray has checked his poor run of results with an excellent trademark win over Denis Shapovalov in the opening round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, an ATP 500 event being held in the UAE.

Hard courts have been a great surface for me over the years. 500 is a lot of matches. I’m very proud of that, obviously the list that you’ve given me, there’s not many players who have done that, so great to get to 500 before I’m done. Andy Murray

Both players arrived in Dubai with just one win in six matches and keen to turn the tide in their favour and, at first, it looked very much like the Canadian was going to achieve that by taking the opening set only for the Briton to respond with one of his trademark comebacks, first levelling by securing a very tense second set and then opening the decider with a break and another at 5-3, to run out, after two-hours and 32-minutes, a 4-6 7-6(3) 6-3 victor in what was his fifth three-setter in seven encounters this season.

With that result he joins the exclusive 500 club of players who have reached that mark in hardcourt matches consisting of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal and now, Andy Murray.

And, on being told of his achievement, he suggested he may only have a ‘few months’ left in his career, immediately fuelling the speculation that he might be considering retiring at this year’s Wimbledon!

“I probably don’t have too long left but I’ll do as best as I can these last few months,” he said in his post-match, on-court interview.

“I still love competing and still love the game, but it gets harder and harder to compete the older you get, to keep your body fit and fresh,” he added.

Asked about joining the exclusive 500 club with his old rivals he responded with a grin: “It’s not bad!

“Hard courts have been a great surface for me over the years. 500 is a lot of matches. I’m very proud of that, obviously the list that you’ve given me, there’s not many players who have done that, so great to get to 500 before I’m done.”

Meanwhile the result itself was his biggest of the year, albeit only his second win of the season in six tournaments.

It certainly made up for the disappointing loss to 18-year-old Czech, Jakub Mensik in Doha last week which left him very dispirited.

Murray will now face a Frenchman in the last 16, either Gael Monfils or fifth seed Ugo Humbert.

It is worth noting that the former Wimbledon semi-finalist Shapovalov, currently 120 in the rankings, 53 places below Murray, is still working his way back on Tour after a long injury lay-off.

In other action the seventh seed, Kazak’s Alexander Bublic battled past the Cech qualifier, Tomas Machac 2-6 6-3 7-6(5) while Andrey Rublev, seeded two, also found himself embattled but recovered to progress 6-7(4) 6-2 6-4 against China’s top player, Zhizhan Zhang while Sebastian Korda of the US swept past Pavel Kotov 6-0 6-2 in the first match of the day.

Two Dutchmen also secured places in the second round, namely Botic van de Zandschulp and Tallon Griekspoor, the former dispatching the eighth seed, Frenchman Adrian Mannarino and the latter going through after Jordan’s wildcard Abdulah Shelbayh retired while trailing 7-5 2-0.






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