Comeback Kings! Murray, Rublev Deliver Match Point Magic In 2023

  • Posted: Mar 02, 2023

Comeback Kings! Murray, Rublev Deliver Match Point Magic In 2023

Pair has saved combined 19 match points en route to victories this season

There is nothing quite like coming back from the brink to claim victory. Just ask Andy Murray and Andrey Rublev.

Both players have saved at least one match point en route to a win three times in 2023, a remarkable tally considering the season is just more than two months old. Between them, the pair is responsible for more than 27 per cent (6/22) of all such comebacks completed on the ATP Tour in the year so far.

Andy Murray & Andrey Rublev: Victories After Saving Match Point In 2023

Murray Rublev
Saved 1 MP Vs. Berrettini, Australian Open R128  Saved 2 MPs Vs. Rune, Australian Open, R16
Saved 3 MPs Vs. Sonego, Doha R32 Saved 3 MPs Vs. Griekspoor, Doha R16
Saved 5 MPs Vs. Lehecka, Doha SF Saved 5 MPs Vs. Davidovich Fokina, Dubai R16

The most recent of these unlikely comebacks took place on Wednesday at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, where Rublev rallied from 1/6 in the second-set tie-break before defeating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in three sets. It is the third tournament in a row in which the World No. 6 has saved match points to prevail, and he later spoke of the unique emotions that such victories produce.

“These matches, when they’re over, and somehow you win them, it’s always special,” said Rublev after his second-round win. “I have no words to describe it.

“One time, maybe you feel lucky, you feel super tight and emotional because you almost lose, and somehow you win it. When it happens a third time, you think now there is no chance, it is impossible, now it’s over for sure.”

Rublev’s comeback victories against Holger Rune, Tallon Griekspoor and Davidovich Fokina will be especially welcome for the 25-year-old given that he has become more accustomed to being on the wrong side of such turanrounds in recent years.

Since 2015, Rublev has lost five matches in which he held at least one match point, most recently in 2021 against Adrian Mannarino in Moscow. In contrast, from 2015 until the start of this year, he saved a match point en route to a win just once.

“When it never happens, sometimes you hope, ‘Maybe I will be lucky today and I will make it’”, said Rublev in Dubai. “When you’re three times lucky, [in the] last three tournaments — Australian Open, Doha and Dubai — three tournaments in a row, it’s like, ‘How many more Christmas presents [do I have]’?”

In contrast, fans of Murray have long been accustomed to the former World No. 1’s penchant for heartstopping comebacks. Between 2015 and 2022, he saved at least one match point en route to a win five times. Only once since 2015 has he held match point and gone on to lose a match — the Briton let slip seven of them before losing against Dominik Koepfer at the 2021 Rolex Paris Masters.

Yet the Briton’s 2023 season has been dramatic even by his own standards. He fended off a match point to defeat Matteo Berrettini in five sets at the Australian Open and then downed Lorenzo Sonego and Jiri Lehecka in Doha after saving three match points and five match points, respectively.

“I don’t know [how I won],” said a disbelieving Murray after his 6-0, 3-6, 7-6(6) semi-final victory against Lehecka in Qatar six days ago. “That was one of the most amazing turnarounds I’ve had in my career. You obviously had the three match points at 5-4, but also [two] when I was serving at 5-3, and then I don’t know.”

Murray’s extraordinary efforts certainly did not escape the attention of Daniil Medvedev prior to his match against the Briton in the Doha final. He acknowledged the 46-time tour-level titlist’s rare ability to stay focused until the very last ball.

“It’s unbelievable [what Murray has done this week],” said Medvedev, who ultimately prevailed against Murray in straight sets to lift the trophy in Qatar. “[It’s like] as soon as someone arrives at match point, that’s where the match starts.”

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