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Andy's Asian Runs To Remember

  • Posted: Sep 24, 2018

Andy’s Asian Runs To Remember looks back at how Murray’s Asian form triggered two dramatic runs

Ever since Andy Murray won the first of his three Rolex Shanghai Masters crowns in 2010, the Asian swing has been a happy hunting ground for the Scottish star, with six singles titles from seven finals. Overall, he has compiled a 92-18 match record in Asia.

As he returns this week to the Shenzhen Open, scene of his memorable 2014 triumph, Murray will be hoping to gain momentum, and a degree of confidence for the future, as part of his comeback from right hip surgery in January this year.

On two occasions, Murray’s Asian swing form has triggered monster end-of-season runs.

You May Also Like: Murray Hoping To ‘Get On A Bit Of A Run’

After the Mutua Madrid Open in May 2016, Novak Djokovic had opened a seemingly insurmountable 9,025-point advantage over Murray in the ATP Rankings and the year-end No. 1 spot was all but secured by May… or so it seemed! 

In one of the most remarkable late-season runs of the Open Era, Murray went on a tear and began to reel in Djokovic. At the peak of his powers, from 4 October to 20 November (47 days), the Briton won a career-best 24 matches — and, at one point, 24 straight sets — with five consecutive trophies. The charge began with the China Open crown in Beijing (d. Dimitrov) and the fairytale was well underway when he won in Shanghai (d. Bautista Agut).

Having also added the Erste Bank Open 500 in Vienna (d. Tsonga) to his trophy haul, by 7 November 2016, at the Rolex Paris Masters, the winning streak helped him become the second-oldest player, at 29, to debut at World No. 1 (after 30-year-old John Newcombe on 3 June 1974). He’d edge past John Isner in a three-set Paris final and, despite winning 23 straight matches, he still required one more – in the final match of the year – to clinch year-end No. 1.

So slim were the margins, that the Nitto ATP Finals came down to a winner-takes-all encounter on 20 November. Boosted by a largely British crowd at The O2 in London, Murray drew upon his huge physical and mental reserves in the championship match to beat No. 2-ranked Djokovic 6-3, 6-4 and clinch year-end No. 1. Djokovic had won 13 of their past 15 encounters and had been aiming to become year-end No. 1 for the third straight year (and the fifth time overall). “It was a very important win for me,” said Murray. “It was just a huge match to finish the year, to try and obviously finish No. 1.”

View Murray’s 2016 Season Activity


Year Tournament Opponent/Final Result
2010 Shanghai d. Roger Federer 63 62
2011 Tokyo d. Rafael Nadal 36 62 60
2011 Shanghai d. David Ferrer 75 64
2012 Shanghai l. to Novak Djokovic 57 76(11) 63
2014 Shenzhen d. Tommy Robredo 57 76(9) 61
2016 Beijing d. Grigor Dimitrov 64 76(2)
2016 Shanghai d. Roberto Bautista Agut 76(1) 61

*Murray also won the Tokyo doubles title (w/Jamie Murray) in 2011 and lost with his brother in the Bangkok final in 2006.

The grit and determination, which provided such memorable imagery in his rise to the summit of men’s professional tennis, first came to the fore in September 2014, when Murray faced an uncertain time. One year on from back surgery, he found himself outside of the Top 10 in the ATP Rankings.

From 2008 to 2013, Murray had featured in the year-end Top 4 and won 23 tour-level titles from 33 finals. Yet on 15 September 2014, and without a title for 13 months — since his historic first crown at The Championships, Wimbledon (d. Djokovic) in July 2013 — the Briton was at No. 11, his lowest position since 23 June 2008. He travelled to Asia in a bid to improve upon his 38-14 record in 2014 and, perhaps, a chance of clinching a place at the season finale in November.

Over a 35-day period, including his title run at the inaugural Shenzhen Open, a semi-final showing at the China Open and titles in Vienna and Valencia, Murray won 20 of 23 matches.

View Murray’s 2014 Season Activity

By lifting three ATP World Tour trophies — all over Spanish opponents — under the guidance of his then coach Amelie Mauresmo, Murray rose from 11th position in the ATP Race To London and became the sixth player to secure his place at the Nitto ATP Finals (for the sixth straight year).

This time around in 2018, as Murray begins his campaign in Shenzhen, his expectations are very different. Following the conclusion of next week’s China Open in Beijing, Murray has announced that he will shut down his season and begin to prepare for 2019 with a clean bill of health.

But Murray will be no less determined to produce deep Asians runs on the continent that has brought him so much success.


Photos courtesy of Getty Images and Shenzhen Open

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Ramos-Vinolas Saves 2 MP, Ousts Seppi

  • Posted: Sep 24, 2018

Ramos-Vinolas Saves 2 MP, Ousts Seppi

Herbert, Norrie through in straight sets

Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas might have arrived in China just one match removed from an eight-match tour-level losing streak. But the World No. 52 fought off two match points in a second-set tie-break at the Shenzhen Open on Monday before beating No. 8 seed Andreas Seppi 6-7(5), 7-6(7), 6-3.

The 30-year-old will try to book his spot in the quarter-finals when he faces Serbian Viktor Troicki, who led Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 5-3 when the Spaniard retired due to a hip injury. Ramos-Vinolas has won both of his FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against Troicki, and he will be trying to earn his 20th tour-level match win of 2018.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert needed just 64 minutes to beat Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 6-4, 6-3. The Frenchman won 82 per cent of his service points (41/50) to book a second-round meeting against #NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas.

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On his Shenzhen debut, Brit Cameron Norrie defeated Chinese wild card Di Wu 6-2, 6-2. Norrie, who reached back-to-back semi-finals in Atlanta and Los Cabos, saved all six break points he faced to advance after 70 minutes.

Yoshihito Nishioka dropped just four games in his Shenzhen opener, beating American Denis Kudla 6-1, 6-3 in 59 minutes. The Japanese left-hander converted five of nine break points en route to victory. He will try to reach his second ATP World Tour quarter-final of the season when he faces No. 6 seed Denis Shapovalov or Belarusian Ilya Ivashka.

Did You Know?
Each of the four previous editions of the Shenzhen Open have been won by players ranked inside the Top 15 of the ATP Rankings.

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Sousa Survives Smyczek In Chengdu

  • Posted: Sep 24, 2018

Sousa Survives Smyczek In Chengdu

Aussie Tomic triumphs in three sets

In his second appearance at the Chengdu Open, Joao Sousa notched his first victory after two hours and 50 minutes on Monday, surviving 16 aces from Tim Smyczek to beat the American 7-6(1), 6-7(7), 6-3.

Sousa, the No. 7 seed, is bidding to capture his second title of the season, after becoming the first Portuguese champion at the Millennium Estoril Open in May. It appeared for a moment, after failing to convert a match point in the second-set tie-break, that the Portuguese No. 1 might be in trouble against this year’s Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open semi-finalist. But while Smyczek saved 17 of 21 break points he faced in the match, it was not enough to beat the World No. 50, who earned his 25th tour-level victory of the season.

Sousa will next face Moldova’s Radu Albot or Canadian Vasek Pospisil for a place in the quarter-finals. Sousa is tied at 2-2 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Albot, and he has won all three of his FedEx ATP Head2Head clashes against Pospisil.  

In the other singles match of the day, Aussie Bernard Tomic overcame a set-and-a-break deficit to oust American Bradley Klahn 6-7(6), 7-6(3), 6-2. It is Tomic’s first tour-level match win since Wimbledon. He will try to make the last eight when he plays either No. 5 seed Gael Monfils, who is fresh off a triumph at the Kaohsiung Challenger, or #NextGenATP South African Lloyd Harris.

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Top Seeds Advance In Doubles
Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic came from a set down to beat Leander Paes and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela 4-6, 6-3, 10-5 on Monday to reach the second round in Chengdu. Pavic has already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals with full-time partner Oliver Marach. 

Matthew Ebden and Mischa Zverev ousted home favourites Xin Gao and Rigele Te 6-3, 6-2 in just 50 minutes.

Did You Know?
Earlier this month at the US Open, Sousa became the first Portuguese player to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam.

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Read & Watch: Fritz & Sandgren Drop Racquets For Dumplings In Chengdu

  • Posted: Sep 24, 2018

Read & Watch: Fritz & Sandgren Drop Racquets For Dumplings In Chengdu

Both players open their Chengdu Open campaigns on Tuesday

Americans Taylor Fritz and Tennys Sandgren swapped their racquets for chef hats on Monday before starting their Chengdu Open campaigns, celebrating the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival by testing their culinary skills.

Under the guidance of chef Rodrigo Martinez Munoz, the ATP World Tour competitors tried their hand at making tang yuen, a dessert dumpling, at the Yan Ting restaurant in the St. Regis Hotel Chengdu.

“It was quite difficult making this specialty dessert dish, but really a lot of fun,” Sandgren said. “Cooking is interesting, but I don’t think I’m very good at it. Besides I travel a lot, so I usually just order take-out.”

Sandgren Fritz

Yet when the compatriots — who used fillings like custard, black sesame, sweet potato and matcha — were challenged to a contest to see who could create the sweet dumplings quicker, it was the 27-year-old who came out on top.

“I don’t have much time to learn cooking but I think, maybe, I might be good at it,” Fritz said. “They said Tennys won but I really think it’s up for discussion.”

After a fun session, the players will return their focus to the tennis court, where they might get a rematch in a setting they’re more familiar with. If No. 8 seed Sandgren beats Mikhail Kukushkin and Fritz defeats Chun Hsin Tseng, the pair will battle again, but on the court rather than in the kitchen.

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Johanna Konta loses in Wuhan Open first round to Ashleigh Barty

  • Posted: Sep 24, 2018

Johanna Konta’s struggles continued as the British number one lost to Australia’s Ashleigh Barty in the first round of the Wuhan Open.

World number 43 Konta was beaten 7-5 6-4 in one hour 40 minutes at the indoor, hard-court event in China.

Konta also lost to world number 17 Barty in the final of the Nature Valley Open in Nottingham in June.

Since then, Konta has won just eight of her 18 matches, including early exits at Wimbledon and the US Open.

“We have played a few times and it is always close, but I am happy to come through in straight sets today,” said 16th seed Barty.

  • What has gone wrong for the British number one Johanna Konta?

Two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza beat Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck to advance to the second round.

The world number 14 from Spain won 6-4 6-0 to gain revenge for a surprise second-round defeat as defending champion at Wimbledon earlier this year.

American Madison Keys and Puerto Rican Olympic champion Monica Puig also won their first-round matches to join the likes of Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki, who received byes, in the second round.

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Shenzhen Open: British number two Cameron Norrie into second round in China

  • Posted: Sep 24, 2018

British number two Cameron Norrie is through to the second round of the Shenzhen Open with a straight-set win over Chinese wildcard Wu Di.

World number 73 Norrie recorded a 6-2 6-2 win in 69 minutes in China.

Norrie will face world number 18 Borna Coric from Croatia in the second round of the hard-court event.

Britain’s former world number one Andy Murray begins what is his penultimate event of 2018 against China’s Zhang Zhizhen on Tuesday.

Murray will also play in Beijing next week, but will not play in either of the remaining two Masters series events in Shanghai or Paris in October to ensure he is in “the best shape possible” for the start of the 2019 season.

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