Murray Says Clijsters 'Still Hits The Ball Fantastic'

Belgian star Kim Clijsters has recently told the media she has been inspired by Andy Murray’s comeback from hip surgery. The Scot returned the praise on Monday ahead of the European Open in Antwerp.

According to the 34-year-old, Clijsters hit on a practice court after him during the BNP Paribas Open, and he was impressed with what he saw.

“She still hits the ball fantastic. I think the decision-making and things like that will come with more matches,” Murray said. “I think physically she can get stronger. I think that was probably one of her biggest strengths when she was at the top of the game and as successful as she was.

“With more time, more matches, more time on the practice court, physically she’ll keep getting better. It’s not easy after such a long time out of the game, but I’m sure she can still win matches at the highest level, judging on how she’s handled herself so well.”

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Murray also lavished praise on Cameron Norrie, who on Sunday became the first Briton to win the title in Indian Wells and cracked the Top 20 of the FedEx ATP Rankings.

“I’d be lying if I said that I called that to be honest. However, I have spent a decent amount of time around him and practised with him quite a lot and he works extremely hard. And I think he’s a great example not just for British players, but all tennis players to look at,” Murray said. “If you put the effort in day-in and day-out and properly dedicate yourself to the sport and have an attitude like he does, it can take you a long, long way. It was obviously a phenomenal achievement last night, but I think the season that he’s having is maybe more impressive than that one week.”

Norrie is up to 10th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin as he tries to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, the season-ending event. The lefty has won 47 tour-level matches this year.

“Every week he’s winning matches. I think he’s played six finals. I think it’s looking like he’s going to win more matches on the Tour this year than he had in every season that he’d had beforehand combined,” Murray said. “That shows you how much of an improvement he’s made. I knew he was good, I’d played against him and practised with him, but to be Top 20 in the world and pushing for a spot in the Tour Finals is an incredible effort.”

<img src="https://sportblogg.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/murray-antwerp-2019-friday-reaction.jpg" alt="Andy Murray“>
Murray won the Antwerp title in 2019. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Murray will try to make his own mark this week in Antwerp, where two years ago he enjoyed a dream run to the trophy for his first title following hip surgery. In an emotional final, he defeated Stan Wawrinka to earn the crown.

“It was obviously a bit unexpected at the time. I spoke a bit about it at the time, but I’d won maybe what would be considered bigger tournaments, but this was one of the hardest that I had to win in terms of everything that I’d went through and I put my body through to get to that point,” Murray said. “It was tough. Obviously winning Wimbledon, it was the pressure and everything and it was obviously unbelievably difficult.

“But to win a tournament at this level with a metal hip and everything that had gone into that in the previous years, it was a long road, so I have good memories from here.”

The Scot will play American Frances Tiafoe in the first round, with second seed Diego Schwartzman looming in the second round.

'A phenomenal achievement' – Murray praises Norrie after Indian Wells win

Andy Murray praised compatriot Cameron Norrie as his impressive season form continued with a win at Indian Wells.

The triumph is the first time a Briton has ever claimed the title at the Masters 1000 tournament and has put Norrie in contention to qualify for the ATP Finals.

Speaking ahead of the European Open, Murray admitted he was a little surprised at the 26-year-old’s success.

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“I’d be lying if I said that I called that to be honest,” Murray said.

“However, I have spent a decent amount of time around him and practised with him quite a lot and he works extremely hard.

“I think he’s a great example for not just British players but all tennis players to look at and go, if you put the effort in day in, day out and properly dedicate yourself to the sport, have an attitude like he does, it can take you a long, long way.

“It was obviously a phenomenal achievement last night. But I think maybe the season that he’s having is more impressive than that one week.

“Every week he’s winning matches. He’s played six finals [this season], and this year he’s looking like he’s going to win more matches on the tour than he had in every season that he’d had beforehand combined.”

Norrie is now ranked No 15 in the world after starting his ATP career in 2017, and Murray is impressed how he has moved up the rankings.

“That shows how much of an improvement he has made,” Murray explained.

“I knew he was good. But to be top 20 in the world and pushing for a spot in the tour finals is an incredible effort.”

“What an incredible week” – Norrie becomes first British man to win at Indian Wells

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How can Norrie qualify for ATP Finals? Who else is in contention?

Cameron Norrie gave his chances of qualifying for the season-ending ATP Finals a huge boost as he became the first British player to win Indian Wells.
Norrie beat Nikoloz Basilashvili in three sets in the final to claim the biggest title of his career.

He is now up to No 15 in the world rankings, and is also up to No 10 in the Race to Turin rankings, which determine the eight players who qualify for the ATP Finals. But how likely is Norrie to make the finals? And who does he need to overhaul?

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Who’s already qualified?

The top four in the world – Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev – have all secured their places in Turin, which will be hosting the finals for the first time following 12 years in London.

Andrey Rublev and Matteo Berrettini look set to qualify as well, but the final two spots are up for grabs.

Casper Ruud currently occupies seventh place with eighth-placed Rafael Nadal not playing as he recovers from injury. That means Hubert Hurkacz is the final qualifier as it stands, although Norrie is just 160 points behind in the standings after netting 1,000 points for winning Indian Wells.

Jannik Sinner is 200 points behind Norrie and Felix Auger-Aliassime is 465 points back.

How many points are left to play for?

There are four weeks of tournaments left for players to pick up points before the ATP Finals start on November 14.

This week sees the European Open in Antwerp and the Kremlin Cup in Moscow (both ATP 250 events), followed next week by the ATP 250 St Petersburg Open and ATP 500 Erste Bank Open in Vienna. The final Masters 1000 event of the season starts in Paris on November 1 before the last ATP 250 of the year in Stockholm on November 7.

Norrie is set to take this week off before playing Vienna, Paris and Stockholm.

The winner of the title in Vienna will take home 500 points, while there are 1,000 on offer to the champion in Paris and 250 in Stockholm.

Who are Norrie’s biggest rivals?

If Norrie is going to make the finals he will likely have to get past either Hurkacz or Ruud, who have both been in good form this year.

Neither are playing this week but are set to return alongside Norrie in Vienna.

“What an incredible week” – Norrie becomes first British man to win at Indian Wells

Norrie could have slipped down to 11th in the rankings when he next takes to the court as Sinner has the chance to move ahead if he wins the European Open.

But Paris could be key to deciding who qualifies for the finals with plenty of points on offer. Along with the 1,000 points for the winner there are 600 for the runner-up, 360 for semi-finalists and 180 for quarter-finalists.

What’s Norrie said about making the finals?

Making the finals would be reward for a brilliant year for Norrie.

Only Tsitsipas, Medvedev and Ruud have managed more than his 47 match wins in 2021 and he has reached six finals, two of which he has won. He is also up to a career-high ranking and has overtaken Dan Evans as British No 1.

Asked about his prospects of playing in Turin, Norrie said: “I think even being in the conversation this late in the year with, what, four tournaments left after this, I think that’s impressive for me.

“If you would have told me before the year that would be the case, I would have been happy. I think that’s a lot of good progression. It would be nice to make it, but I’m going to keep going, keep taking care of what I can and handling what I can.

I’ve been really enjoying my tennis and been enjoying being out on court and competing in the big moments.

Norrie is bidding to become the first Brit to make the season-ending finals since Andy Murray won the event in 2016. Emma Raducanu was bidding to qualify for the WTA Finals in Mexico but is out of contention after losing her opening match at Indian Wells.

ATP Race to Turin standings

5. Andrey Rublev – 4,165 points

6. Matteo Berrettini – 4,000 points

7. Casper Ruud – 3,015 points

8. Rafael Nadal (not playing) – 2,985 points

9. Hubert Hurkacz – 2,955 points

10. Cameron Norrie – 2,795 points

11. Jannik Sinner – 2,595 points

12. Felix Auger-Aliassime – 2,330 points

13. Aslan Karatsev – 2,030 points

14. Pablo Carreno Busta – 1,925 points

15. Nikoloz Basilashvili – 1,885 points

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Federer, Murray fall in major ranking shake-up; Norrie, Badosa into top 15

After 18 months of low activity on the ATP and WTA rankings, there have been some big post-Indian Wells moves, with Roger Federer and Andy Murray two of the most notable fallers.

With the rankings having been frozen for a significant period of time due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 52-week format is now back in use and points from eight ATP tournaments and four WTA tournaments, as well as 2020 French Open points for the women, drop off on Monday, October 18.

Federer is losing 480 points from his total which means his lengthy stay in the top 10 – which has caused some controversy as he has only played 19 matches since the start of 2020 – is over.

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The 20-time Grand Slam champion has slipped out of the top 10 for the first time since January 2017, when he returned from a six-month injury absence as world No 17 to win the Australian Open.

Federer has dropped to No 11 in the rankings behind Hubert Hurkacz, who is into the top 10 for the first time after making the Indian Wells quarter-finals. With Federer not playing again this year as he recovers from knee surgery he is likely to fall even further as he will drop 900 points from his 2019 Basel Open title and semi-final run at the 2019 ATP Finals.

Federer has not been ranked outside the top 20 since April 2001, when he was 19.

While Federer has dropped one place, Murray has plummeted from world No 121 to No 172.

Murray’s drop is because he has lost the 250 points that he held for winning the European Open in Antwerp in 2019. The Scot is back to try and win the title again this week, and will be hoping for a ranking boost ahead of the 2022 Australian Open. If he can’t get back into the top 100 then he will need a wildcard for the Grand Slam in Melbourne or will have to go through qualifying.

New British No 1 Cameron Norrie is up to No 15 in the world after winning the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.

Norrie, who battled back to beat Nikoloz Basilashvili in the final, has also got a chance to make the season-ending ATP Finals as he is now just 200 points behind Hubert Hurkacz in the last qualifying spot.

Novak Djokovic still remains world No 1 – and his position has been strengthened despite not playing since the US Open.

Djokovic has only dropped 203 points after Indian Wells while world No 2 Daniil Medvedev, who was beaten in the last 16 in California by Grigor Dimitrov, has lost 1,025 points, most of which come from winning Shanghai in 2019. Djokovic is now nearly 2000 points ahead of the Russian in the rankings.

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Casper Ruud is up to a career-high No 9 in the world and closing on Dominic Thiem, who remains world No 8 despite dropping 680 points. Stan Wawrinka is out of the top 50 and down to world No 57, having not played since March.

There are two big fallers on the WTA side, where four events are dropping from the rankings and 2021 French Open points are replacing points from the rescheduled 2020 edition.

Iga Swiatek, who won the French Open in 2020, falls from world No 4 to world No 12 as she drops 1470 points. That means Naomi Osaka moves back into the top 10 despite not playing, while Ons Jabeur becomes the first Arab tennis player in a top-10 spot after her run to the semi-finals at Indian Wells.

Ons Jabeur celebrates

Image credit: Getty Images

Sofia Kenin, who lost in the 2020 French Open final, drops from world No 8 to No 14 as she loses 1059 points from her ranking. Petra Kvitova falls four spots to world No 15.

Emma Raducanu is down to world No 23 after losing her opening match at Indian Wells. Raducanu gained 10 points for her result in California but has been overtaken by Jessica Pegula, who made the quarter-finals last week.

Paula Badosa is up to a career-high world No 11 after winning the title at Indian Wells while runner-up Victoria Azarenka moves up to No 26.

‘I feel tired and angry…the system is unfair’

Danish youngster Holger Rune has voiced his frustration at the ATP rankings and the fact it has been so difficult for players to move up in the revised system over the last 18 months.

Rune, 18, has enjoyed some encouraging results but still finds himself outside the top 100 in the world and having to qualify for tournaments.

“You know I am a hard-working man and I normally never complain,” he wrote on Instagram. “This year I have fought very hard to achieve my goal of becoming top 100. ATP has continuously made it very difficult for me and many other young upcoming players because they have had a frozen ranking from 2019 meaning players on the ATP ranking still have their points from results made in 2019.

“Looking two years back on the normal ranking I would today be ranked 62 in the world and not 124. Does it matter? Yes when you are ambitious and hard working it matters to get your reward. With that ranking I would be able to enter better tournaments and I would feel that my hard work paid off.

“I feel tired and angry now because I think the system is unfair. I love my tennis but we have to compete on equal conditions.”

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‘I don’t know what people have against the Brits’ – Norrie’s shoes go missing ahead of final

Cameron Norrie has said his shoes went missing ahead of the biggest match of his life, but that didn’t stop the new British number one from winning his first ATP Masters 1000 title.

Norrie, 26, fought back from a set down to win 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 against Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili to become the first Brit to win the Indian Wells title.

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But Norrie’s preparations were hindered when his footwear vanished.

¨Every day I left my shoes on top of the locker,” Norrie said. ¨I think someone, I don’t know who it was, maybe someone from the cleaners or something last night, came through and they threw the three pairs of shoes that I had away.

I looked all day. I had everyone looking. You don´t want to be thinking about your shoes. At one point I said, ´All right, these are the shoes I got, I´m just going to focus on what I can control right now. I wore them in a little bit, and came good in the end.

Andy Murray suffered a similar incident earlier in the tournament when his shoes – with his wedding ring attached to the laces – disappeared from under a car.

“I don´t know what people have against the Brits with stealing the shoes,” Norrie added.

“But I didn´t manage to get them back.

“Luckily, I didn´t have the wedding ring attached.”

Norrie fought from a set and a break down to take the title, meaning he has risen to a career-high ranking of 16th, become British number one, and has put himself in contention for a spot at the ATP Finals this year.

Norrie is currently in 10th place in the race to Turin and sits just 115 points behind ninth-placed Herbert Hurkacz. Given Rafael Nadal has already brought his season to a close, ninth place will qualify.

And after Norrie sat 74th at the start of the year, six ATP finals and two wins later he is delighted to be in the mix for the Finals.

“I think even being in the conversation this late in the year with, what, four tournaments left after this, I think that’s impressive for me,” he said.

“If you would have told me before the year that would be the case, I would have been happy. I think that’s a lot of good progression.

“[Next] I’m playing Vienna, Paris and Stockholm. It would be nice to make it, but I’m going to keep going, keep taking care of what I can and handling what I can.”

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Will Murray Earn Revenge Against Tiafoe In Antwerp?

Frances Tiafoe beat Andy Murray less than two months ago in Winston-Salem. At the European Open in Antwerp, Murray will have a chance to earn revenge against the American.

Murray will play Tiafoe for the third time in their ATP Head2Head series, it was revealed when the draw for the ATP 250 was made this weekend. The former World No. 1 triumphed in their first clash last year at the Western & Southern Open.

“My level is around 50 or 60 in the world. It’s frustrating because if wasn’t moving great and not feeling good physically then I would be a bit easier on myself,” Murray said. “But when I’m winning a low percentage of second-serve points, that’s got nothing to do with the physical side of things.”

Murray won just 47 per cent of his second-serve points against Tiafoe in August, and will try to turn that around on the indoor hard courts of Antwerp, where the Scot memorably claimed his 46th tour-level singles title — and his first after his most recent hip surgery — two years ago. The winner will face second seed Diego Schwartzman.

Another intriguing first-round match will see Belgian wild card Zizou Bergs challenge seventh seed Lloyd Harris. In 2019, Bergs upset Ramos-Vinolas on home soil and pushed Karen Khachanov in a tough three-setter.

Eight seed Dusan Lajovic will have his hands full against former World No. 7 Richard Gasquet. In their only previous clash three years ago in Madrid, Lajovic needed two tie-breaks to dispatch Gasquet.

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Former Champions To Meet In Moscow Opener
Marin Cilic and Damir Dzumhur have both emerged victorious at the VTB Kremlin Cup, but only one will advance to the second round. Cilic, the two-time tournament champion and Dzumhur, the the 2017 champion, will meet for the second time (Cilic leads 1-0).

Top seed Andrey Rublev received a bye into the second round, in which he will play countryman Roman Safiullin, a wild card, or Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. Rublev defeated Mandarin 6-4, 6-0 in the Moscow final two years ago.

Although both men are unseeded, one of the most intriguing first-round matches at the VTB Kremlin Cup is between Australian John Millman and Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi.

Millman, last year’s Nur-Sultan champion, is one of the toughest outs on the ATP Tour due to his fighting spirit and physical game. Bonzi, however, is full of confidence thanks to winning six ATP Challenger Tour titles this year.

Murray handed tough opening test in European Open

Andy Murray’s bid for a repeat win at the European Open will not be easy following confirmation of a tough draw for the Brit.

Murray won the Antwerp event in 2019, his only tournament success since his return from hip surgery.

He missed the tournament in 2020, but is back in Belgium to challenge for his first title of the year.

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While a number of big names have skipped the ATP 250 tournament, Murray has found himself in a tricky part of the draw.

His first-round opponent is talented American Frances Tiafoe, who the Brit has met on two occasions.

Zverev knocks out Murray in straights sets in fourth round at Indian Wells

The record is one win apiece, with Tiafoe emerging victorious in their most recent meeting at Winston Salem earlier this year.

Murray will not be looking beyond Tiafoe, but should he emerge victorious he will lock horns with the second seed Diego Schwartzman.

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Murray set to drop out of ATP top 170

Andy Murray’s third-round loss to Alexander Zverev at the Indian Wells Masters could see him drop out of the ATP top 170.

Murray has been struggling with a return to consistent action, and his best form, since extensive surgery on his hip, the kind of which has seen athletes forced to retire.

The 2021 season has been one of his better campaigns since then, but it has not been enough to lift him up the rankings.

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In the first two rounds he beat Adrian Mannarino and Carlos Alcaraz, but his involvement ended when he met Zverev.

Because of a quirk of the coronavirus-adjusted rankings system, he will lose 250 points from a win at the European Open in October 2019, with the points lasting longer after much of the 2020 campaign was abandoned.

Murray is currently ranked 121st but is set to drop outside the 170 when those points are expunged.

The 34-year-old former world number one does not expect to take part in this year’s Davis Cup, but could take part in the Australian Open despite the country’s restrictive coronavirus rules.

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Murray after Zverev loss: I don’t deserve Davis Cup spot

Andy Murray does not believe he would “deserve” to play next month’s David Cup Finals and suggested he would skip the competition even if selected.

The Briton saw his Indian Wells run come to an end on Tuesday night when losing 6-4 7-6 (7-4) to world No 4 Alexander Zverev.

Murray was integral to Great Britain’s 2015 Davis Cup success, but said he felt the toll of his 2019 exploits when suffering a bruised hip in Madrid two years ago.

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“I’ve given a lot to the Davis Cup, and sometimes to my own detriment physically,” Murray told BBC Sport.

“The same thing happened last time I played Davis Cup at the end of 2019. I know there was coronavirus, but I was struggling with that really up until September time the following year.”

Murray is set to drop to the 170-marker in the ATP rankings despite signs his game is improving.

The 34-year-old, currently ranked No 121, overcame 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz at Indian Wells and did not give third seed Zverev an easy ride, but he does not feel he would warrant a spot in captain Leon Smith’s GB squad.

GB face France and the Czech Republic in the group stages November 27 and 28, with the competition concluding on December 5 – three weeks before players would have to leave for the Australian Open.

“I also don’t feel right now I would be playing, either,” he added. “Obviously that would be up to Leon, but I’m not sure I deserve to play in that team.

“Cam [Norrie] and Dan [Evans] have had a great year. Liam Broady’s in and around the top 100 now and we’ve got very strong doubles as well.

Right now, I’m not planning on playing the Davis Cup and with the late finish to it, and early departure to Australia, with my schedule between now and the end of the year, I am going to have to rest and take a break and give my body a chance to breathe.

“And I want to make sure in the off season I get to spend as much time with my family as I can because I have been away from that recently and that will be case when I go to Australia as well.”

Murray is ruing his own consistency after the defeat to Zverev, which prompted a one-word tweet of “F***” to signal his own disappointment despite falling to one of the best players on tour.

“I don’t think I played well today. I mean, there’s a lot of mistakes. There was some good stuff in there, but it was mixed in with bad,” Murray said.

“There was no sort of, like, consistency, I don’t think. My average level was just not really there today. It was either good or bad. Yeah, I wouldn’t put that down as playing really well.

“The decision making is not great in the important moments still. They are sort of the moments that I was always – I think for the most part – very strong in, and I haven’t been this year. So disappointed with that.”

Meanwhile, Zverev suggested Murray played potentially his best match since his hip surgery, with the German delighted to get his first win over the former world No 1.

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Image credit: Eurosport

“He’s the only one of the Big Four that I hadn’t beaten yet, so I’m happy that I’ve done it,” he said.

“I always stayed in the match, even though I was down a break in both sets. I always knew I had a chance. The second set was an extremely high level from both of us. It could have gone both ways.

“It was a fantastic match. Andy played extremely well, maybe as well as he’s played since the [hip] surgery. I hope he continues playing the same way, because tennis did miss him for a long time and it’s good to have him back.”

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Zverev edges to victory against a battling Murray

Andy Murray’s eventful run at Indian Wells is over following a straight sets defeat to Olympic champion Alexander Zverev in round three.

The 34-year-old Brit had his opportunities but ultimately succumbed to a first loss in three meetings with the 24-year-old German, who triumphed 6-4 7-6 to make it 19 wins from his last 20 matches.

Zverev will now face 14th seed Gael Monfils or Kevin Anderson in the last 16.

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Murray started brightly and showed no signs of any fatigue from the exertions of his draining three-hour battle with Carlos Alcaraz.

The Scot nailed a pair of aces in the opening game and then set about turning the heat up on Zverev with a close-up return position on the German’s suspect second serve. It earned an immediate reward via a double fault and clearly unsettled the world number four as Murray secured an instant break with a superb crosscourt backhand pass the pick of his points.

Ahead of the match Zverev had spoken of his desire to claim a first ever win over Murray to complete the set of having beaten all of the so-called ‘Big Four’ and he rallied hard from 3-0 down to ensure that dream would become a reality.

Zverev slowly took charge of the baseline exchanges and overwhelmed the three-time Grand Slam champion with precision power. The German’s first serve did plenty of heavy lifting too as he turned the tables to win five games in a row before comfortably closing out a 49-minute set to love.

Murray had been hoping to beat a top five opponent for the first time since he defeated Novak Djokovic at the 2016 ATP finals and he responded strongly to the setback.

The Scot made quick work of his first few service games in Set 2 and after seeing two break points go begging in the second game he got the reward his proactive approach deserved. Some quick footwork allowed him pick up a drop shot to earn him two more opportunities and this time Zverev crumbled to hand his opponent a 3-1 lead with a third double fault of the contest.

Murray appeared on course to consolidate with a quite sublime drop-shot-lob combination but then came unstuck as Zverev chased down another drop shot and found the line with a winner on the run to break right back.

A tense finale ensued with Zverev’s travails in taking an eternity to re-lace some shoes adding to the drama. However, it was the German who made the breakthrough in Game 11 as Murray double faulted on break point.

Zverev served for the match but completely capitulated with a shocking miss at the net and an overhead long which allowed Murray a brief reprieve.

The former world number one could not force a decider in the tie break though as Zverev came through it by a 7-4 scoreline to complete victory in two hours and eight minutes.

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