Mur­ray shows his true grit

Ten­nis: Scot claims first back-to-back Tour sin­gles wins since hip surgery

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - SPORT -

Andy Mur­ray was tired but happy af­ter com­ing through a gru­elling three-set show­down with Cameron Nor­rie to book his place in the quar­ter-fi­nals at the China Open.

The 32-year-old claimed his first back-to-back Tour sin­gles wins since un­der­go­ing hip surgery in Jan­uary with a 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 6-1 vic­tory over his fel­low Bri­ton in Bei­jing to make the last eight for the first time in 12 months.

How­ever he had to dig deep to do so, bat­tling through fa­tigue in the sec­ond set be­fore surg­ing across the fin­ish­ing line to set up a show­down with either top seed Do­minic Thiem or Chi­nese wild card Zhang Zhizhen to­mor­row.

There were flashes of the touch and plenty of the grit which took the for­mer world num­ber one to the pin­na­cle of the game in a con­test which lasted two hours and 52 min­utes.

Mur­ray said: “I’m tired – I just had a sleep be­fore com­ing. I’m re­ally tired.

“That’s the first time I’ve had to do that since I came back.

“It’s some­thing that I need to kind of get used to again, es­pe­cially play­ing at this level and that in­ten­sity.

“It was a good step for me. It’s great that I won the match.

“Whether I’d won or lost it, I was able to come out the fol­low­ing day and be com­pet­i­tive and play some good ten­nis. “But ob­vi­ously I’m happy I’ve got the day off to­mor­row to re­cover.”

The twice Wim­ble­don win­ner served for the first set at 5-3, but was bro­ken and Nor­rie also saved three set points in the tie-break be­fore a dou­ble fault handed it to his op­po­nent. How­ever, the Bri­tish num­ber three made Mur­ray pay in the sec­ond set as he raced into a 5-2 lead with the dou­ble Olympic gold medal­list wilt­ing.

He did sum­mon up im­pres­sive re­serves to square it at 5-5, but Nor­rie claimed the tie-break.

But far from ca­pit­u­lat­ing, Mur­ray re­sponded in dev­as­tat­ing fash­ion, se­cur­ing a dou­ble break as he claimed the first five games of the fi­nal set and even­tu­ally won it 6-1.

Mur­ray said: “The good thing about ten­nis is that you can change strat­egy.

“If you watched the end of the sec­ond set, pretty much the whole of the third set, I tried to keep the points short. I started com­ing to the net a lot more. My feel­ing was that the av­er­age rally length went down by quite a few shots.

“In the third set, I didn’t re­ally feel like out of breath af­ter any of the ral­lies, whereas in the mid­dle of the sec­ond set, I felt like there were three or four games where we were play­ing a lot of long points, but he was also dic­tat­ing the ral­lies.”

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