Two more excellent wins for Brits at the Mutua Madrid Open Masters at the Caja Magica with both Andy Murray and Cameron Norrie progressing into the second round following straight set victories in their openers.
I enjoyed it. I prepared really hard before coming here, worked hard and really wanted to go on and put a good performance out there and I feel like I did that, Andy Murray
Murray defeated Dominic Thiem 6-3 6-4 while Norrie took out Soonwoo Kwon 7-5 7-5 to join Jack Draper and Dan Evans in round two following their successes the previous day.
The Murray Thiem encounter proved an intriguing match-up as the two players have undergone major surgery in recent years and both are fighting to regain the form which took them to the top levels of the sport.
For Murray it hass been a long battle since his hip surgery in January 2018 while Thiem had to go under the knife with a wrist injury late in 2021 and after several attempted ‘comebacks’ only returned from a 10-month lay-off four weeks ago and has lost in all the four matches he has played so far.
Former world No.1 and three-time Grand Slam champion told the Austrian former world No.3 and US Open champion to ‘keep going’ and not be disheartened as he collected his first win on clay in five years.
“I hope you feel better soon. I’m glad to see you back, keep going, it takes a lot of time, but you’ll be fine,” Murray told Thiem as they shook hands at the net.
There was certainly little pressure on the Murray game as he benefitted from 33 unforced errors off the Thiem racket. He also hammered 9 aces past him and converted two of three break points and saved the three which Thiem was able to force.
“I enjoyed it. I prepared really hard before coming here, worked hard and really wanted to go on and put a good performance out there and I feel like I did that,” Murray said after booking himself a second-round meeting with the 14th seed from Canada, Denis Shapovalov who saw off fellow left-hander from France playing on a ‘Lucky Loser’ ticket, Ugo Humbert 7-6(1) 6-3.
Meanwhile Norrie had his hands full over one-hour and 49-minutes before he edged out South Korea’s Kwon, a qualifier, in two tough sets to progress into the second round where the big-serving American John Isner awaits.
The British No.1 quickly fell behind in the opening set after losing his first service game but fought back from 1-4 down, breaking Kwon in the seventh game before levelling at 4-4 and saving two more break points on his serve to make it 5-5.
World number 11 Norrie, making his debut on the clay in Madrid, took control in the next game by breaking the Korean to love and then serving out to take the first set in just under an hour.
But the 24-year-old Kwon, world ranked 73, showed some great fighting qualities and refused to roll over.
They swapped breaks of serve from 3-3 but when the Brit broke Kwon for a fourth time in the match, he edged 6-5 ahead and made no mistakes on his own serve to seal a hard-earned victory on his third match point.
In other action the French ‘entertainer’ Gael Monfils eased past 20-year-old Spanish wildcard Carlos Gimeno Valero 6-3 6-0 in just 55-minutes to book a second-round meeting with world No 1 Novak Djokovic.
Monfils has never beaten Djokovic in 17 meetings but insists he is not obsessed with idea of trying to get the better of the Serb at least once.
“The guy is better than me,” said Monfils, who is contesting his first clay-court tournament of the season.
“Every match is an opportunity to win it. I try to take some lesson in everything, but I don’t really care. He can beat me tomorrow. He can beat me in Rome. He can beat me at Roland Garros. Maybe I will get (there) once and that’s it. Who cares at the end?”
Italy’s 10th seeded Jannik Sinner squandered a 5-2 lead in the opening set but fought back from the brink in the second en route to a 6-7(4) 7-6(4) 6-3 victory over former French Open junior champion Tommy Paul of the USA.
Sinner saved three match points late in the second set and broke Paul as the American was serving for the match to force a decider, finally advancing to meet Australian Alex de Minaur, ‘The Demon’ who eventually overcame Spain’s Pedro Martinez 7-6(2) 1-6 6-3.