Murray Downs Bublik In Stuttgart, Reaches QFs
In windy conditions, the Scot, who is making his debut at the ATP 250 grass-court event, returned well and showed his fighting spirit, saving three set points in the second set as he rallied from 2-5 to eventually advance after one hour and 42 minutes.
“He is predictable in his unpredictability. You are prepared for some amazing shots and then maybe some loose games,” Murray said in his on-court interview. “Today he played some amazing stuff for five or six games in the second set and everything was coming off and I was getting a bit frustrated, but I kept fighting. Held a tough game at 2-5 and I thought I played well through to the finish.”
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Murray opted to miss most of the clay-court swing to focus on his grass preparations and it is a decision that is paying off so far. The 35-year-old found his rhythm at the Surbiton Trophy ATP Challenger Tour event last week, reaching the semi-finals and is yet to drop a set in his opening two matches in Stuttgart.
The win lifts Murray to No. 59 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. If the Scot can reach the semi-finals, he would move to the edge of the Top 50. The last time Murray was inside the Top 50 was in May 2018.
"It was quite tricky the conditions today, it was quite blustery," Murray added. "I moved well on the courts well. The court is very dry, so it is nice to move on and hopefully into the weekend the conditions will be a bit calmer and I can play some better tennis."
The 46-time tour-level titlist now leads Bublik 3-1 in their ATP Head2Head series and has improved to 112-23 on grass. Murray, who advanced to the final in Sydney on hard in January, will next play top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The World No. 61 saved one set point on serve at 4-5, 30/40 in the first set, before he held his nerve in the second-set tie-break to advance after one hour and 40 minutes.
It is the second time the 28-year-old has defeated a Top 20 player this season after eliminating then-World No. 17 Reilly Opelka en route to the semi-finals in Munich. Otte will next face Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi.
In a match that resumed on Thursday, Italian Lorenzo Sonego edged Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6(2), 7-6(4) to book a meeting with second seed Matteo Berrettini. Sonego now holds a 13-6 record on grass, having lifted his first ATP Tour title on the surface in Antalya in 2019.