After some recent encouraging wins, Andy Murray hopes to maintain his momentum as he makes his European Open debut in Antwerp.
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Andy Murray tries to build on recent match wins in Asia as he faces wildcard Kimmer Coppejans in the first round of the European Open in Antwerp.
Murray is playing at the European Open, which was won by compatriot Kyle Edmund last year, for the first time and picked the tournament in Antwerp because of the ease of getting home quickly should his wife Kim, who is expecting their third child very soon, go into labour.
The British player is keen to build on the momentum of the last few weeks, which have seen Murray get his first ATP Tour-level singles wins since undergoing hip surgery back in January, when he feared he would be forced into retirement.
After playing a few doubles events, starting at Queen’s Club in June, Murray played his first singles match in Cincinnati in August but lost both there and at Winston-Salem. He won two Challenger Tour matches in Mallorca during the US Open but it wasn’t until the recent Asian swing that he got his first ATP Tour-level wins, beating Tennys Sandgren in Zhuhai before losing to eventual champion Alex de Minaur; winning back-to-back matches against world no. 13 Matteo Berrettini and compatriot Cameron Norrie in Beijing; and beating Juan Ignacio Londero before losing to Fabio Fognini in Shanghai.
All in all it was a very encouraging few weeks for Murray, and saw his ranking climb from outside the world’s top 500 to world no. 243 this week.
‘I have been competitive with guys just outside the top ten so far,’ Murray told The Times last week. ‘If I can keep improving a few things over the next few months, then maybe there is an outside chance I can get around there. […] If I do get up there, I’m not going to be focusing on ranking targets.
‘[…] I would like to be competitive in the big events against the best players. I’m not there yet, but I’m closer than I was a month ago, and much closer than a couple of months ago.’
Murray intends to sit out the remaining few weeks of the ATP Tour season to spend time with his family and new baby, before returning to action for the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid in late November, so this is his last opportunity to get more ATP Tour wins this year.
In the bottom half of the European Antwerp draw, in the quarter which is bracketed by third seed Diego Schwartzman and eighth seed Pablo Cuevas, Murray opens his campaign against wildcard Kimmer Coppejans of Belgium on Tuesday night.
Coppejans is one of three Belgian players, including second seed David Goffin, in the European Open draw this week and the only one to receive a wildcard.
Currently ranked world no. 158, 25-year-old Coppejans was briefly a top-100 player in 2015, ranking as high as world no. 97 in July of that year after winning two Challenger Tour titles. But he has not been able to make his way back into the top 100 since, despite winning two more Challenger Tour titles to increase his career haul to five.
Champion at the Sevilla Challenger in September 2018, Coppejans has reached two Challenger Tour finals in 2019 – finishing runner-up to Pedro Sousa in Blois and Mats Moraing in Amersfort – as well as making semifinals at a third Challenger in Murcia. He also successfully qualified for the French Open and reached the final rounds of qualifying at the Australian and US Opens, all of which has taken him back into the top 200 as a result, rising as high as world no. 132 in August.
Coppejans is making his main-draw debut at the European Open this year, having played qualifying and lost in the second round of it in 2016. He has never faced a top-10 player, and is 0-6 during players ranked inside the top 50 in his career; 5-16 against players ranked inside the top 100.
Murray, of course, is not a top-10 player, not a top-50 player or even a top-100 player at the moment, but it’s safe to say that in Asia he was playing a lot more like a top-100 or top-50 player than one currently ranked outside the top 200. He and Coppejans have never met before, but Murray has been playing well enough to beat a player of the Belgian’s calibre and although there will definitely be setbacks and backslides during Murray’s comeback, it feels reasonable to expect him to be able to oust Coppejans and book his place in the second round in Antwerp on Tuesday.
Murray vs Coppejans European Open tennis is live from Antwerp on Tuesday at 7.30pm local/6.30pm BST
Murray vs Coppejans tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Murray hoping to build on recent wins in Antwerp
After some recent encouraging wins, Andy Murray hopes to maintain his momentum as he makes his European Open debut in…
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