Following his big win over Matteo Berrettini, former world No. 1, Andy Murray will attempt to reach the quarter finals of the China Open when he takes on fellow Brit, Cameron Norrie in the second round on Wednesday.
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Murray recovered from a break down in both sets to score a 7-6 7-6 victory over US Open semi-finalist, Berrettini- his biggest win since his return from hip surgery.
World No. 13, Berrettini led 5-3 in the first set and 2-0 in the second, while the Italian also held a couple of set points in the second set tie break, but Murray showed characteristic grit to erase all of those deficits, before completing a very satisfying win in just over two hours.
The three-time major winner out-aced the big-serving Berrettini 8-5, winning 75% of points on his first serve and 60% on his second. He also saved five of the seven break points he faced en route his second singles win since his return from career-threatening hip surgery.
“I feel like I’m hitting the ball pretty clean,” Murray said. “Things are going in the right direction.”
“In terms of the way that I’m moving now, in comparison to a couple of months ago, just my level of confidence in that is much, much higher than what it was a few months ago”.
“Now I just need to try and get the matches, get them consistently, so that I’m used to playing three, four matches in a week”.
Back in January, Murray feared his career would be over by now, as he had announced that he planned to retire at Wimbledon due to his hip injury. He even suggested that the Australian Open could be his final tournament. Those fears have now been allayed, with the Scot now into his fourth singles tournament since returning from hip surgery.
Murray underwent the surgery at the end of January, but returned to the tour in June, initially playing doubles. He made his singles comeback in Cincinnati, losing to Richard Gasquet in the first round. The two-time Wimbledon champion also suffered opening round defeat in his second tournament at Winston-Salem, losing to Tennys Sandgren, but he got his revenge over Sandgren in his next event in Zhuhai, winning 6-3 6-7 6-1 to record his first tour-level singles win since the 1st of January. He fell to Alex De Minaur in three sets in the next round.
He has taken another massive step forward in Beijing, beating Nitto ATP Finals hopeful, Berrettini on his return to the Chinese capital following a two-year absence. The 32-year-old won the title in his previous visit in 2016.
He will now attempt to win his seventh consecutive match at the tournament, and claim back-to-back tour-level wins for the first time since surgery when he plays compatriot, Cameron Norrie on Wednesday.
Norrie goes up against his more illustrious countryman for the first time, as the British No. 3 looks to win successive matches for the first time since his semi-final run at the Atlanta Open in July.
The left-hander came through the qualifying rounds in Beijing, beating Yecong He and Damir Dzumhur to get into the main draw, before moving past Chilean, Cristian Garin, who retired while trailing 7-6 1-0.
It has been steady, if unspectacular progress for Norrie over the last couple of seasons. He was relatively unknown in the mainstream until an epic Davis Cup victory over Roberto Bautista-Agut in February last year, but he has since gone on to become a decent top-100 player. Norrie first broke into the top-100 in May last year, after reaching the semi-finals in Lyon; he went on to reach further semi-finals in Atlanta and Los Cabos, ending the year at 90th in the world.
He has peaked at a career-high No. 41 in 2019, putting together a 19-21 record for the season. Currently ranked 69th in the world, the 24-year-old reached his first ATP final in Auckland at the start of the year, and has also made semi-finals in Acapulco and Atlanta in his other stand-out results in 2019.
Can he take down Murray in Beijing on Wednesday?
Norrie may be the much higher-ranked player- Murray is currently 503 in the world- but given the way Murray played against Berrettini, the former world No. 1, who says he feels “zero pain in my hip” is beginning to hit his stride in this intriguing return from injury and arguably starts as favourite.
Andy Murray vs Cameron Norrie is live from Beijing on Wednesday, 2 October from 12:30pm local time/ 5:30am BST