After his five-set heroics, can Andy Murray keep his US Open campaign alive as he faces fifteenth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime?…
After his five-set heroics, can Andy Murray keep his US Open campaign alive as he faces fifteenth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime?
Andy Murray vs Felix Auger-Aliassime | US Open men's singles R2 | 3/9/2020Auger-Aliassime to win & +37.5 gamess 15/8 Bet Now! New Customers only. 18+. T&C’s Apply. begambleaware.org.
Murray vs Auger-Aliassime is live from New York on Thursday 3 September, 8.30pm local/1.30am BST
In his first Grand Slam match since facing Roberto Bautista Agut at the 2019 Australian Open, Andy Murray battled his way back from the brink of defeat despite never being able to find his best tennis, beating Yoshihito Nishioka 4-6, 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4), 6-4 in a marathon four hours and 49 minutes to reach the second round of the US Open.
After such a physically and emotionally draining match, one which left him needing access to the emergency ice bath and injections to drain blood from under his toenails, what will Murray have left with which to take on 20-year-old, 21-ranked Felix Auger-Aliassime on Thursday?
Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.
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Murray vs Auger-Aliassime: Head-to-head
Andy Murray and Felix Auger-Aliassime have never played.
Murray vs Auger-Aliassime: Preview
One of three former US Open champions in this year’s men’s singles draw, Murray was not the only one to go to five sets in the first round, but his match against Nishioka was unquestionably the biggest story of the first two days at this unusual Grand Slam.
It was almost as emotional as his last match at a Grand Slam, which we thought at the time would be his last match ever, when he lost in five sets to Bautista Agut at the Australian Open in 2019 after confessing that he thought his career might be over.
Hip resurfacing surgery kept that career alive, although for how long, and what it might look like exactly going forward, is unclear. Pain caused by the surgery led to bruising and inflammation which kept Murray out of competition from November last year until after the ATP Tour had been suspended for six months, and although he won his first two matches of the year against Frances Tiafoe and Alexander Zverev in ‘Cincinnati’, Murray’s poor performance against Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals showed how far he was from anything like his best tennis.
The first two sets of Murray’s match against Nishioka were worse. In fact, it was the worst Murray performance at a Grand Slam I can remember, with nothing working for him, his serve misfiring and a general lack of energy and intensity infecting every area of his game, while Nishioka – despite not having played since February – was full of vigour and purpose, dictating play with his left-handed forehand and making Murray’s life a misery at the net.
Murray’s serve and game started to pick up midway through the third set, but by that time he was already down a break and the match should have been done and dusted. Somehow, though, Murray wormed and then clawed his way back in, taking the third set in a tie-break, repeating the feat in the fourth set and then outlasting Nishioka in the most improbable fashion.
As far as I’m concerned, and I did watch the entire thing, nothing but immense experience and an even more immense degree of stubbornness got Murray through a match that he should by all rights have lost. Even with a day to recover, is it really realistic to expect him to have anything in the tank with which to take on Auger-Aliassime?
That’s not even taking into consideration the fact that Auger-Aliassime is no mean player himself. The 20-year-old, seeded 15th, has yet to win an ATP Tour title but he’s reached two finals, including in Marseille and Rotterdam earlier in 2020; he was a Miami Masters semifinalist in 2019 and although he has only once made it to the third round of a Grand Slam, that has a lot to do with some tough draws and his body taking a while to adjust to the demands of best-of-five. Narrowly beaten in a third-set tie-break by Tennys Sandgren in the second round of ‘Cincinnati’ last week, Auger-Aliassime edged past Thiago Monteiro in four sets to reach the second round in New York. He’ll have to be much more proactive and assertive than that against Murray, but even if Murray gets off to a good start, I don’t think he can possibly have the energy reserves to sustain it.