March 27, 2023

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Murray survives O’Connell scare in Dubai cliffhanger


The former world No.1 Andy Murray survived a scare from qualifier Christopher O’Connell to reach the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday.

The 2017 champion needed nearly three hours to battle past O’Connell 6-7(4), 6-3, 7-5.

The Brit dropped the opening set on a tie-break but bounced back in the second. He broke O’Connell in the first game of the second set and levelled the match with a second break.

In the decider, Murray saved four break points and hit 31 winners to seal the win.

The victory comes a week after the Brit suffered one of the heaviest defeats of his career – 6-0, 6-1 against Roberto Bautista Agut in Doha.

“Happy to get over the line. I did a great job of winning that match. It would have been very easy for me to have lost that tonight. I came out with a great point at the end to turn the match, “said Murray.

“Also, to be fair, when I was down in the third set, as well as some break points, I came up with some good stuff as well. After the first set, I found it difficult to play tonight. Mentally, I found it a very tough match. Obviously, you had a difficult loss last week in Doha, so I think, naturally, you’re probably going to be doubting yourself a little bit.

“The positives are that physically I did well, I fought all the way through till the end. Certainly, a few things I need to work on in terms of my game and just trying to make it a little bit easier on myself by not getting frustrated early in the match,” he added.

Earlier, Tunisian wildcard Malek Jaziri lost in the first round following a closely contested three-set clash against Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4.

Krajinovic took more than two hours and 18 minutes to overcome Jaziri’s challenge at the Centre Court.

The world No. 44 started well and quickly established a 3-0 lead. Jaziri, who in 2018 reached the semi-finals before falling to eventual champion Bautista Agut, fought back to level and take the opening set in a tiebreak. Stepping up the game, the Serbian broke his Tunisian rival twice in the second set to level the match.

Jaziri, who reached a career-high No. 42 in 2019, tried his best and gave a tough time to Krajinovic in the decider. He took a 4-3 before calling for treatment.

Later, Krajinovic earned a decisive break to lead 5-4 before serving out the match.

He will now face either defending champion and seventh seed Aslan Karatsev or Mackenzie McDonald in the second round.

Jaziri, who also lost to Lejandro Davidovich Fokina in the Doha Open’s first round last week, has been battling injuries which saw his ranking slip to 297.

In pulling the first upset of the ATP tournament, Czech qualifier Jiri Vesely stunned world No.24 Marin Cilic 6-4, 7-6 in the opening match of the day.

Making his fourth appearance in the tournament, Vesely took almost two hours to beat the former US Open champion.

This was the first win in the event for the world No 123, who failed to get past the first round in his previous attempts.

Cilic began by holding the first game of the match at love, but then saw his opponent win 15 of the next 17 points to hold three points to lead 4-1 before Cilic steadied and held serve again in the fifth game. Vesely went on to win the set, surrendering just five points on his serve, and then broke to lead 2-0 in the second.

Cilic eventually began to offer greater resistance midway through the set, holding a break point for 3-3, saving three break points to hold for 3-4, fighting off three match points on his serve at 5-3, and then breaking for the first time as Vesely served for the match at 5-4. The set then went to a tiebreak, which Vesely won 7-3.

The Czech will face either eighth seed and 2018 champion, Roberto Bautista Agut, or France’s Arthur Rinderknech, in the next round.

Another qualifier Taro Daniel of Japan advanced to the next round after defeating David Goffin 6-3, 7-6. The former world No. 7, now ranked 48th, arrived in Dubai with a 3-6 win-loss record for the season and registered his third successive first round loss, going down 6-3, 7-6 to

The world’s number 111 Daniel broke Goffin twice to take the first set easily.

After being broken in the fourth game, the Belgian responded immediately and earned an instant break back. Later, a tiebreak was required to decide the match. Goffin lost the serve to give Daniel a 6-5 lead in the tiebreak, and Daniel secured victory with his first match point.Andy MurrayDubai Duty Free Tennis ChampionshipsTennisUAE Sport


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