Andy Murray Start-Stop Again, Falls to Felix Auger-Aliassime in Rotterdam

ATP Rotterdam Andy Murray vs Felix Auger Aliassime
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Andy Murray began his Rotterdam quest with a strong victory in straight sets over a surging Sasha Bublik, the latest in Murray’s early-round, high-level victories. But the level of difficulty rose steeply as the second round brought world #9 Felix Auger-Aliassime, who cruised past Murray easily in their last meeting, a 2020 US Open match that ended 6-2 6-3 6-4. Felix, for his part, has played very well over the last six months, and has established himself as one of the most relentlessly powerful hitters on tour. And once again, Felix’s power and energy were too much for the aging Murray.

Tone Set Early

Felix got off to a quick start, breaking Murray in his first service game, and setting the tone for an easy victory in that he broke Murray to love. Frustration built quicky for Murray, who was clearly overpowered and unable to bring anything close to the same energy and force. Felix was hitting his spots well in the first set, putting Murray uncomfortably on the run and into awkward defensive positions that left him just trying to survive.

The second set began better for Murray, but he lost a break halfway through, and that proved to be the difference, as Felix won 6-3 6-4. Murray had trouble getting his first serve to land, not hitting 60%, while Felix served well and won a much higher percentage of his first serve points. Murray saved break points fairly well (5/9), but was giving Felix too many looks at them, and not seeing enough of his own. He failed to convert the two break points he had as a returner.

A Repeat Tournament Performance

A loss to a Top 10 player may not be a discouragement to Murray in and of itself, but being bounced again early in a tournament after a promising start probably is. To be fair to Murray, a match against Bublik followed by one against Felix could be what the tail end of a 500-level tournament looks like, but because of Murray’s low ranking he faces these kinds of opponents early. Thus he has greater difficulty gaining ground on the rankings, which would put him in a more favorable position in a tournament’s early rounds. He’ll need to break through some of these high-quality opponents in consecutive matches to improve his ranking and his draws if he wants to gain a foothold for re-ascending the heights of the Top 100.

Felix moves on to face Cam Norrie in the QFs, and Murray will need to figure out how to follow up a good win with subsequent quality play.

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