Murray Handles Hanfmann Challenge In Basel

  • Posted: Oct 23, 2023

Murray Handles Hanfmann Challenge In Basel

Struff defeats Eubanks

Will this be the week Andy Murray wins his first ATP Tour title since 2019?

The former No. 1 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings made a good start on Monday when he defeated German Yannick Hanfmann 7-5, 6-4 to reach the second round at the Swiss Indoors Basel. The Scot snapped a three-match losing streak and will next face Argentine Tomas Martin Etcheverry, who ousted eighth seed Sebastian Korda 6-3, 1-6, 6-3.

“Happy to come through,” Murray said in his on-court interview. “He’s had a brilliant year and has been playing very well, so it’s a good result.”

As normal for a Murray match, straight sets did not necessarily mean straightforward. The 36-year-old faced eight break points in the match and was broken when he served for the match at 5-3 in the second set.

“It was tough. The first four or five games were something like 45 minutes,” Murray said. “I don’t remember having that really before, it was ridiculous. And then had a chance at the end of the first set, didn’t get it and just managed to sneak a break at the end. Up again in the second, couldn’t quite finish it, but did well to respond and get the break at the end. Played a great point obviously on the match point to finish.”

But Murray was unrelenting on return, winning 43 per cent of his return points and breaking his opponent’s serve four times from six attempts to triumph after two hours and 19 minutes.

This is Murray’s third appearance at the ATP 500 event. He reached the second round last year (l. to Bautista Agut) and had not previously played in Basel since 2005. 

Jan-Lennard Struff snapped a four-match losing streak on Monday, when he eliminated American Christopher Eubanks 7-6(7), 6-4. The big-serving German saved one set point in the first-set tie-break at 6/7 before he won 88 per cent (15/17) of points behind his first serve in the second set to earn his first Top 50 hard-court win of the season after one hour and 36 minutes.

Struff, who is making his second appearance in Basel, will next play fourth seed Hubert Hurkacz or Serbian Dusan Lajovic. The World No. 27 Struff has enjoyed standout results on clay and grass this year, advancing to the title match in Madrid as a lucky loser before reaching the final in Stuttgart. He holds a 4-6 record on hard courts in 2023. 

In a three-hour, three-minute clash, Dutch qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp battled past former World No. 9 Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-2. The 28-year-old converted six of his 16 break points to set a second-round match against sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime or another wild card, home favourite Leandro Riedi.

In other action, Sebastian Baez clawed past Christopher O’Connell 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-3 to improve to 2-0 in the pair’s Lexus ATP Head2Head series. The Argentine Baez captured his first title on hard courts in Winston-Salem in August.

The 22-year-old will next meet top seed Holger Rune or Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic. Rune is currently eighth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin and will seek a deep run in Basel to boost his Nitto ATP Finals qualification hopes.

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