In what is a crucial week for those payers still in contention for the last three places left in next month’s Turin eight-player extravaganza, the Rolex Paris Masters, the last ATP 1000 level event of the year, got under way at the Accor Arena in the French capital.
In the important moments, that will-to-win and fight that has always been quite a big, big part of my game..... Andy Murray
One of those players is Alex de Minaur, the world No.13, who recovered from 2-5 down in the third set to keep in the Race for Turin and hopefully become the first Australian since Lleyton Hewitt in 2004, to make the last eight at the ATP Tour Finals.
His victim was Britain’s sole representative at this year’s event with Cameron Norrie withdrawing with fatigue and Dan Evans side -ined with a torn thigh muscle, who frustratingly allowed his winning position to erode, losing a match-point as he twice failed to serve out and avenge the three-set defeat he had suffered at the hands of the Aussie at the China Open in Beijing at the beginning of the month.
His frustration increased over the last five games as De Minaur, known as the ‘Demon’ and boyfriend of Britain’s No.1 female player Katie Boulter, slowly ground his way towards a 7-6(5) 4-6 7-5 victory in the style fans had become used to from Murray himself in his hay days!
Murray, a former Paris champion (2016) certainly gave his all as he recovered form losing a tight first set to level the match and force the decider.
Momentum was certainly with the 36-year-old Brit, as he broke at the start of the third and then doubled his advantage in the seventh game bringing the finishing line within touching distance.
With Murray serving for the match, De Minaur – with nothing to lose – opened his shoulders to go 15-30 up. Murray responded on the next point keeping De Minaur on the move with a 30=shot rally which brought the crowd to its feet then crumbled on the next two points as his opponent recovered one break.
De Minaur held, and with the pressure on, Murray’s serve was fully tested and failed for a second time, especially on match point, to allow the Aussie to level and then move ahead by holding his own serve forcing Murray to serve to stay in the match.
“I’m not really enjoying it just now in terms of how I feel on the court and how I’m playing,” Murray said later.
“The last five, six months haven’t been that enjoyable, so I need to try to find some of that enjoyment back because playing a match like that, there’s not much positivity there.
“When I play a good point, I’m not really getting behind myself and then, in the important moments, that will-to-win and fight that has always been quite a big, big part of my game…..” he added without qualifying his thoughts any further.
“If I want to keep going, I’m going to need a lot of work,” Murray then continued. “It’s not just going to be like one or two weeks of training to get me to where I need to get to, it’s going to have to be a lot of work and consistent work to give myself a chance.”