Murray Cuts Through Toronto Wind For Sonego Win, Zverev Advances

Three-time champion to face Purcell next

Andy Murray notched his second victory of 2023 against Lorenzo Sonego on Tuesday at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers. It could hardly have been more different than the first.

The three-time champion Murray charged to a 7-6(3), 6-0 triumph to reach the second round at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Toronto. The former World No. 1 produced a masterclass in controlled hitting in blustery conditions to overwhelm Sonego and book a second-round meeting with Max Purcell.

“It really wasn’t pleasant to play in,” said Murray of the conditions after his win. “It was really blustery, changing direction during the point, and we knew coming in it was going to feel uncomfortable. We hit on this court this morning and it was really breezy.

“So I was expecting it but it still adds a bit of stress to the match and it was a really tight first set. There were lots of opportinties each way, I managed to sneak through the tie-break and after that he was obviously a bit disappointed, and I relaxed a little bit.”

In Doha in February, Murray saved three match points before rallying to a remarkable two-and-a-half-hour win against Sonego. In contrast, he rarely looked out of command in the pair’s second Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting, even when the Italian saved three break points across as many different service games to force a first-set tie-break in Toronto.

The only real moment of peril for the Briton came at 4-5 in the first set, when a pair of double faults appeared to have handed a set that Murray had largely dominated to Sonego. The Briton dug deep to save two set points and hold from 15/40, however, before winning six straight points en route to the tie-break and going on to dominate the second set.

One place behind Sonego in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings prior to the match, Murray leapfrogged the Italian into 38th with his two-hour, nine-minute victory. The 36-year-old won one of his three National Bank Open Presented by Rogers crowns in Toronto, in 2010, and believes his past experiences competing at Sobeys Stadium can help him in his first appearance there since 2014.

“The conditions here are very different to playing in Montreal. It’s always much faster here, it just takes time to get used to it,” said Murray. “Hopefully if I build some confidence and get through some matches, I believe I can play well on this court and in these conditions.

“Obviously, I’ve had success here in the past. It was a very long time ago, but I have good memories from this tournament. I love playing here and hopefully I can build a bit of momentum.”

In other action, two-time Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev made a good start to his tournament with a 6-4, 7-6(3) victory over in-form Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor.

"It is very windy right now, so I'm just happy to be through," Zverev said in his on-court interview. "Hopefully tomorrow it's going to be nicer to play."

Zverev relied on his serve, winning 71 per cent of his second-serve points and saving the only break point he faced to defeat the Washington finalist in one hour and 44 minutes.

The German will next face Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who eased past American J.J. Wolf 6-0, 6-2 on Monday. Zverev leads the pair's Lexus ATP Head2Head 3-0 and has not lost a set to Davidovich Fokina.

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