In preparation for his first Masters 1000 match against a top-five player in five years, Andy Murray had made his intentions clear. While Alexander Zverev, oneof the fittest players around, was the overwhelming favorite, the Scotsman was there to win and remained confident in his ability to beat the German and win tournaments.
That didn 't happen, and immediately afterwards Murray will only get frustrated at the opportunities he missed in a hectic game. But once again, Murray rivaled a top player on a level playing field and created opportunities for much more. In the end, Zverev demonstrated his quality by securing his 19th victory in 20 matches with a 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory over Murray. Zverev has now defeated all members of the "big four".
The match- was already noticeable due to recent issues. A year after Zverev's ex-girlfriend, Olya Sharypova, alleged he was abusive during their relationship, ATP announced last week that she would be carrying out an investigation.be on the allegations, a movement that Zverev said he welcomed . The 24-year-old has "categorically and unequivocally " denied abusing Sharypova and said his lawyers have taken legal action against the publisher. Murray had been one of the most prominent voices calling on the ATP to develop a domestic violence policy and investigate these allegations.
Murray opened the match serving well early in moments, injecting more rhythm into his first serve as Zverev initially struggled. He also imposed himself on the return by standing well inside the baseline to dismiss Zverev's serve before taking his typical step forward. The German immediately blinked and Murray took the 2-0 lead.
Such is his confidence, Zverev remained calme early even after Murray saved two break points to hold. for 3-0 in a 10-minute game, and it slowly settled down. He held the serve and spent the remainder of the first set closing in on the baseline while suffocating Murray with direct, offensive tennis led by his previously volatile forehand. Zverev finished the first set with 12 forehands while Murray, who offered little resistance when the score changed, only managed one.
Murray looked for a solution in the second set, and he found it by essentially throwing the kitchen sink at his opponent. He opened the set by successfully causing the German's forehand errors with more curly balls, but as the set progressed he released an increasing number of drop shots, with mixed success. , and he injected a lot more rhythm into his forehand. He broke again in the secondset me then, once Zverev got it back, was fed some service games.
But a series of botched errors didn 't was never too far and they came in at 5-5, just as Zverev had started to hit his forehand steadily again. Under the immense pressure of No.4, Murray double faulted on the breaking point at 5-5. After snatching a final break at the end, Murray played an average tie-break that ended with a desperate point as both players stood at the net.
Murray walked off the pitch cursing loudly as he slapped himself in the face. When a reporter at his press conference suggested he had played well, he burst out laughing. "I don't think I played well today. I mean, there are a lot of mistakes. There were some good things in there, but they were mixed with some bad ones. there was no kind of consistency, I don't thinknot. My average level just wasn't really there today. It was either good or bad. Yeah, I wouldn't say it plays really well, "he said.
During the first semester of the year, when Murray had constantly struggling with fitness issues, he motivated himself by thinking that if he could just enjoy a period of fitness, the quality of his play was largely intact. Murray says he now feels as fit as he has been in a long time as evidenced by his strong recovery after a three hour second round victory over Carlos Alcaraz . And yet he says he 'beats' his game. "The consistency is not there," he said. "Decision making is not yet great at important times. These are, in a way, the moments whenWhere I have always been - I think for the most part - very strong, and I have not been this year. So disappointed with that.
In recent weeks, Murray has made it clear that he's here to win these games, not just good performances. When he beat No.26 Ugo Humbrt en route to his first ATP quarter-final since 2019 in Metz, he pointedly called his week "disappointing ". His reaction here was no different, but it is very useful to compete so closely with one of the fittest players on the tour. Over time, he will take those positives and keep moving forward.
In the women's draw, second seed Iga Swiatek did failed to match the vicious and clean shot of a rising Jelena Ostapenko in a clash of former Roland Garros champions as Ostapenko won 6-4, 6-3. Victoria Azarenka, who beat her compatriot Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 6-4, is the only former WTA 1000 champion remaining in the draw.