Former World No.1 and the 3-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray made a return to singles’ tennis on Tuesday in his home tournament at Queen’s Club Championships in London. The two 2-time Wimbledon champ received a wild card at this year’s event. In his first singles appearance since Rotterdam in March, the 34-year-old made a promising comeback to the Tour. Murray cruised to a comfortable 6-3 6-2 win over the Frenchman Benoit Paire in just one hour and five minutes.
Ever since Murray underwent hip resurfacing surgery, his speed and mobility on court always remains in question. He seemed to tick all the boxes in Tuesday’s encounter against Paire as turned back the clock. The Brit put on display some of his vintage tennis to mesmerize the crowd on Centre Court.
Queen’s Club Championships Second Round
After crossing the first hurdle with flying colors, the five-time Queen’s Club champion will take on No.1 seed and in-form Italian Matteo Berretttini in his upcoming Round of 16 encounter on Thursday. While Murray made an easy meal of Paire’s challenge, Berrettini had to slog for nearly two hours to overcome the stern resistance of his compatriot, Stefano Travaglia. After lagging behind in the first set, Berrettini prevailed in two clutch tiebreak sets 7-6(5) 7-6(4). The Italian is all set to lock horns against the veteran Murray.
In their only encounter so far on the ATP tour, Murray outlasted the hard-hitting Berrettini 7-6(2) 7-6(7) at the 2019 China Open.
Andy Murray vs Matteo Berrettini
Berrettini’s serve against Travaglia in his opening round encounter was impeccable. If he can manage to serve big against Murray, the Italian can put Murray on the ropes in spite of the Brit’s good return of serve. If Berrettini can find consistency and precision on his thunderous forehands and mix them up with his delicate drop shots, the Italian has a huge potential to excel on grass. Those are the tactics the 25-year-old can implement to test Murray’s physical endurance.
With Murray’s mobility on the court now a concern, Berrettini can look forward to exploit that weakness by making him run from side to side in long rallies. Occasional drop shots can certainly put the five-time champion in a spot of bother.
As far as Murray is concerned, he is well aware of the fact that he cannot challenge Berrettini’s physicality over a long duration of time. The Brit should aim to keep the points shorter by approaching the net. As always, Murray’s first serve, especially on grass, remains to be his biggest weapon. He can target Berrettini’s backhand wing with his precise serves to get some easy points in his service games.
Their current forms
After a slump in form in 2020, the 25-year-old Italian has regrouped well. His results on the recently concluded clay season attest the fact that he has found his rhythm back this season. Predominantly a clay-courter, can Berrettini transfer his powerful clay court game onto the grass? His title at the 2019 Stuttgart Open is certainly an indication that the Italian can excel on this surface, too.
Murray, who has received a wild card at the upcoming Wimbledon Championships, will view the upcoming clash against the young Italian not only as means to test his physical fitness, but also as an opportunity to beat the in-form player. This step would boost his chances of winning a possible sixth title at the Queen’s Club Championships.
An exciting and dazzling contest awaits us. An in-form Berrettini and a dodgy Murray will battle for a quarterfinal spot at the Queens’s Club Championships.
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