Murray Sets Sinner Clash In Stockholm

Brit fights past Norwegian qualifier

Former World No. 1 Andy Murray was probably hoping for a straightforward opening match at the Stockholm Open, but qualifier Viktor Durasovic had other ideas.

Murray was tested in the second set of his first match at the ATP 250 event, and he once again passed with flying colours to record a 6-1, 7-6(7) victory on Tuesday.

“I got off to a very good start, and then in the second set he started to play better. He was a lot more comfortable as the match went on,” Murray said. “At the end it was just a big fight, and I managed to get the tie-break… It feels like he is playing better than 300 or so in the world.”

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Murray, who underwent hip surgery in 2019, has registered at least one main draw win in eight of his last 10 outings, facing off against the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Ugo Humbert, Frances Tiafoe, and Hubert Hurkacz in first-round matches. In Stockholm, Murray had to navigate past No. 354 Durasovic, a 24-year-old qualifier who played well above his FedEx ATP Ranking in his ATP Tour main draw debut.

Murray's win sets up a mouth-watering clash between the three-time Grand Slam champion and Jannik Sinner, the top seed in Stockholm. It will be the pair’s first meeting.

“Sinner has had a fantastic season… He was very unlucky to not make the Final Eight [at the Nitto ATP Finals] in Turin,” Murray said. “He loves playing indoors on hard courts, so it will be a big test for me.”

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Murray cruised through the 29-minute opening set with little trouble, but he was in for a bigger fight as Durasovic settled into the contest. The qualifier erased Murray’s early lead to take them into a second-set tie-break, but Murray’s experience showed through in the tight moments. He saved set point and sealed his third match point with a blistering rally.

Fifth seed Taylor Fritz needed an hour and 14 minutes to claim the final spot into Stockholm’s second round. The American converted three of his eighth break point opportunities against lucky loser Egor Gerasimov to win 6-4, 6-4. 

Fritz will next face his good friend and regular doubles partner Tommy Paul for the second time in three weeks. The fifth seed defeated his countryman 7-6(3), 6-4 when they met at the St. Petersburg Open.

Pedro Martinez and Botic van de Zandschulp also advanced, booking second-round clashes with seeded players as a result. Martinez will face eighth seed Frances Tiafoe after the Spaniard edged past Emil Ruusuvuori 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(4), while van de Zandschulp defeated Croatian wild card Nino Serdarusic 7-6(5), 7-6(5) to earn a matchup with seventh seed Marton Fucsovics.

Also in action, Arthur Rinderknech moved past sixth seed Alexander Bublik. Rinderknech was leading 6-1, 2-0 before the Kazakh player retired.

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