Andy Murray delivered a signficant blow to Hubert Hurkacz’s bid to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals Monday with a 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3 upset at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna.
Having lost to Hurkacz twice already this year, the 2014 and 2016 champion in Vienna broke his losing streak against the Pole in two hours and 41 minutes. Having failed to convert one match point opportunity at 5/6 in the second-set tie-break, Murray battled hard in the decider for his first Top 10 win since August 2020, when he beating Alexander Zverev in the 2020 Western & Southern Open second round.
“It was a good match that could have gone either way,” said Murray. “I was disappointed to drop serve in the opening game of the third, but thankfully I was able to get the break back in the next game and from there I probably deserved to get over the line. It was a good win in tough circumstances.”
Murray extends his winning streak to nine matches in Vienna and will next challenge #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in the second round. Alcaraz will compete at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan next month.
“My movement has been getting a little better with each match,” said Murray. “A lot of my movement is about anticipation and when you’re not playing many matches – like I haven’t been in recent years – you don’t read the play quite as well. Now I’m starting to see the ball a little earlier and starting to react a little quicker, which means I will start to chase more balls down.”
Occupying the ninth – and final – qualifying spot in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, Hurkacz began the week just 110 points clear of Jannik Sinner. After winning the European Open title in Antwerp last week, the Italian will overtake the Pole in ninth spot should he reach the semi-finals this week.
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Murray broke serve on his fourth attempt at 4-4 in the first set, when Hurkacz over-hit a forehand at 30/40. The Briton closed out the 45-minute opener with an unreturned serve.
The pair’s third ATP Head2Head meeting became more explosive in the second set, with fewer rallies. Hurkacz finally made inroads on Murray’s serve in the sixth game of the second set, but could not convert four break points. At 3-3, it was Murray’s turn to be frustrated — failing to convert with Hurkacz serving at 15/40 — and in the next game, Murray saved one break point.
In a closely fought tie-break, Hurkacz held his nerve to save one match point at 5/6 with a backhand winner down the line and went on to take a 7/6 lead with an unreturned serve. Hurkacz clinched the second set, which lasted 70 minutes, when Murray hit a backhand long.
It appeared Murray’s perfect 8-0 record was coming to an end when he was broken in the first game of the decider, but the Briton immediately regained the service break. At 2-3, Hurkacz’s forehand faltered on three occasions and Murray gained the advantage. The Pole was he Briton was forced to save two break points when he served at 5-3 for the match.
Hurkacz, who has won three ATP Tour titles in a career-best season, sits in ninth for a place at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 14-21 November. Hurkacz beat Murray 7-6(4), 6-3 in the Moselle Open quarter-finals on 24 September and he also beat Murray by the same scoreline at the Western & Southern Open in August.