In a battle across generations, former World No.1 Andy Murray will lock horns against fast-rising young Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in a Round of 16 clash in Vienna on Wednesday.
On Monday, Murray got the better of in-form Hubert Hurkacz in three tight sets. In the process, he recorded his first win over a Top 10 player since beating Alexander Zverev at the Cincinnati Masters last year. The three-time Grand Slam champion’s win over Hurkacz was far from straightforward as he had to maneuver through some tricky and nervous moments on Center Court in his opener.
Eventually, Murray’s resilience helped him overcome Hurkacz’s challenge 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3. The long battle that lasted for two hours and 41 minutes. While Murray hasn’t won any tournament since Antwerp in 2019, the Brit has recorded some fine victories over quality opponents since making a comeback after his second hip-resurfacing surgery.
Just like in his win over Frances Tiafoe in Antwerp last week, Murray refused to yield against Hurkacz. He was broken to start the third set, but the two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, using all his experience, clawed his way back to record a fighting and memorable win.
His consistent serving, movement on the court, and ability to win crunch points were some of the features of his monumental win over Hurkacz.
While Murray had to slog for three sets in his opener, Alcaraz came through in straight-sets 6-3 6-4 in just under one and half hours against Dan Evans.
Andy Murray vs Carlos Alcaraz
In their only clash so far on tour, Murray prevailed over the 18-year-old Spaniard in three sets 5-7 6-3 6-2 in a titanic clash at Indian Wells earlier this month.
The slower, outdoor conditions in the Californian desert aided Murray in his win over the teenager. However, one can expect fast and lively indoor conditions to suit Alcaraz better in this match.
Alcaraz is highly regarded as one of the top emerging players. Many have already touted him to be the next Rafael Nadal. He will need to pull out something extraordinary to take down an upbeat and resurgent Murray. The Spaniard can hit lightning-fast groundstrokes off both wings and possesses decent volley skills for his age.
The teenager must emphasize pushing Murray on the back foot by using the power of his groundstrokes. Alcaraz can outsmart him by moving towards the net, his deft touches doing the rest.
Murray, on the other hand, will look forward to bringing his experience to the fore to unsettle the teenager. As far as Murray is concerned, the outcome of the match largely depends on how well he serves. If he can manage to serve well consistently, that will certainly test the Spaniard’s character and willingness to engage in long battles.
The Murray-Alcaraz clash has all the makings of a long and tiring battle. The longer the contest lasts, the Spaniard will have a slight advantage, being younger and fresher than his veteran opponent.
Having won titles at Vienna in 2014 and 2016, Murray now has a perfect 9-0 record in the Austrian capital. One can expect Murray to fight for every inch against Alcaraz as he hopes to keep his Vienna record intact.
Can Alcaraz, avenging his Indian Wells defeat, bring an end to Murray’s unbeaten run in Vienna? Or will Murray, pulling out his tricks, once again find a way to hold the young Spaniard at bay?
An intriguing and dazzling matchup between generations awaits us in the Austrian capital on Wednesday.
Main Photo from Getty.