Match Report

Murray Makes Fast Start In Zhuhai, McDonald Defeats China's Shang

Karatsev, Etcheverry reach second round
September 21, 2023
ATP Zhuhai Championships
Andy Murray makes a winning start against Mo Ye Cong on his second appearance in Zhuhai. By ATP Staff

Former World No. 1 Andy Murray moved through the gears on his return to China on Thursday when he defeated Chinese wild card Mo Ye Cong 7-5, 6-3 to reach the second round at the Huafa Properties Zhuhai Championships.

The 36-year-old Scot has performed impressively in China throughout his career. He has won the Rolex Shanghai Masters three times (2010, ’11, ’16), triumphed at the ATP 500 in Beijing in 2016 and lifted the trophy at the ATP 250 in Shenzhen in 2014.

Competing in the country for the first time since 2019, Murray had too much for the World No. 668 Mo, saving all five break points he faced to maintain his record of never losing to a player outside the Top 200 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

"It was a very fast court," Murray said. "The conditions are very humid and he played a solid level and pushed me while I was trying to adjust to the conditions. Once I managed to get ahead in the second set, I felt a little bit more comfortable."

Murray is aiming to rediscover his form at the hard-court event this week, having suffered a second-round exit at the US Open. The 46-time tour-level titlist is 15-12 on the year, highlighted by a final run in Doha.

Following his one-hour, 42-minute win, the Scot will next play Aslan Karatsev. The World No. 63 snapped a four-match losing streak against Italians when he downed Matteo Arnaldi, who reached the fourth round at the US Open.

Karatsev rallied from a set and a break down to advance 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 6-2 in three hours and 23 minutes in the pair’s first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting.

#NextGenATP Chinese star Shang Juncheng was unable to advance to the second round, falling to Mackenzie McDonald in his first tour-level event on home soil.

The sixth seed played with too much intensity against Shang, who seemed to tire in the humid conditions. McDonald captured a 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-3 win in two hours and 32 minutes. The American has earned a career-best 29 tour-level victories this year. Seeking his maiden tour-level trophy, he will next play Kimmer Coppejans.

In other action, fifth seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry moved past Australian qualifier Luke Saville 6-4, 6-4 to set a meeting with #NextGenATP Czech Dalibor Svrcina. Another Australian qualifier, Marc Polmans, had more success, though. Polmans defeated Dane Sweeny 6-3, 6-1 and will face second seed Cameron Norrie in the second round.

Coppejans beat Aleksandar Kovacevic 7-6(4), 6-1, while Alex Bolt advanced after Diego Schwartzman was forced to retire with the Australian leading 6-3, 4-2.

Former Top 20 star Cristian Garin defeated Zhou Yi 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 and Alexandre Muller overcame Rinky Hijikata 6-3, 6-2.

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