Murray Comeback Halted In Montpellier First Round

Andy Murray (photo: Open Sur de France/Facebook)

WASHINGTON, February 24, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Andy Murray‘s return to the ATP Tour at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier must have felt like a disappointment for the former World No. 1.

The 121st-ranked Murray from Great Britain, who accepted a wild card into the main draw of the ATP 250 indoor hardcourt event, lost to No. 83 Egor Gerasimov from Belarus, 7-6 (8), 6-1.

It was just the fifth tournament for Murray since the beginning of the 2020 season and his first ATP Tour-level match since October of last year.

After dropping a 71-minute first-set tie-break in which Murray had a set point, the Briton ran out of energy. He was broken in his first two service games of the second set and fell in one hour and 44 minutes at Sud de France Arena.

Murray saved one match point in his final service game, but Gerasimov closed it out on his own serve with an ace down the T on his third match-point opportunity. Gerasimov advanced to the second round against Wednesday’s winner between No. 5 seed Jannik Sinner of Italy and No. 60 Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia. Meanwhile, Murray is scheduled to play next week at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

“I just tried to be focused on the match and not think about mistakes,” Gerasimov, 28, said after the match during an on-court interview. “I just wanted to try my best today because I was playing with a great champion. It was a big experience and I’m happy.”

Gerasimov fired 12 service aces and won 78 percent (36 of 46) of his first-serve points. He broke Murray three times in five attempts and was broken just once. Murray finished with three aces and four double faults. He placed only 52 percent of his first serves in play and was efficient in winning 63 percent of his first-serve points (22 of 35). Gerasimov outpointed Murray 77-59.

Earlier this week, during a sit down interview with media, the 33-year-old Murray said he’s still trying to return to form after undergoing right hip surgery after the 2019 Australian Open. He won an ATP Tour title at the European Open in Antwerp, Belgium, in October of 2019.

“I’ve played in practice with lots of top players and I know how I’m getting on against them,” Murray said. “If I was getting smoked when I was practicing and playing with guys, I wouldn’t keep going through it. But I know the level that I’m playing at.

“I’ve been playing and practicing with guys who are between 20 and 60, 70 in the world and I’m doing absolutely fine and that’s off the back of hardly playing any matches in the past couple of years.”

Recently, Murray played an ATP Challenger event in Biella, Italy, reaching the final. “It was good to get the five matches,” he said. “I found it tricky conditions to play there to be honest. In terms of the level of tennis, it was at times okay. It was good to get the matches and not feel pain.”

Before facing Gerasimov, Murray had suggested that if he can stay fit for a period of time and get good practice in as well as matches, he doesn’t see why he shouldn’t be able to compete with the best players.

“Obviously, playing your Rafa’s, Novak’s, Rogers, Medvedev, Thiem, these guys is difficult,” Murray said. “Of course, it would be, that would have been the case when I was ranked right at the top of the game. But I still feel like I can compete for big events. I wish I was able to show that in Australia, because I was ready to do that. No question, I was ready to do that.”

Elsewhere Tuesday, No. 8 seed Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany was upset by fellow German Peter Gojowczyk, 6-3, 6-4. The 144th-ranked Gojowzcyk struggled in getting his first serve in play (just 37 percent) but won 94 percent (17 of 18) of his first serve points. Plus, he broke Struff four times in nine tries to advance to the second round against Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic. The 69th-ranked Czech advanced over No. 91 Mikael Ymer of Sweden, 6-1, 6-1, in 50 minutes.

Other winners include: Dennis Novak of Austria, Benjamin Bonzi of France and Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands. The 102nd-ranked Novak upset No. 68 Gilles Simon of France, 7-6 (5), 1-6, 6-3. Bonzi, ranked 125th, stymied the return of oft-injured Lucas Pouille of France, ranked 79th, 7-6 (6), 6-2; and the 160th-ranked Griekspoor went the distance to beat No. 78 Marcos Giron of the United States, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3.

Besides Sinner, three other seeds – No. 1 David Goffin of Belgium, No. 6 Ugo Humbert of France and No. 7 Lorenzo Sonego of Italy – will be in action on Wednesday. Goffin faces Bonzi; Humbert opposes Griekspoor and Sonego plays against No. 92 Sebastian Korda of the United States.

• At the Cordoba on red clay in Argentina, first-round play continued with No. 5 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas, No. 6 seed Dominik Koepfer, No. 7 seed Thiago Monteiro and No. 8 seed Federico Delbonis in action.

Cerundolo brothers both win at Cordoba Open

Eight of nine Argentines in the ATP 250 Cordoba Open field competed on Tuesday, including wild card Francisco Cerundolo and qualifier Juan Manuel Cerundolo, who both were seeking their first ATP Tour-level win of their respective careers. Both were successful.

No. 135 Francisco Cerundolo defeated No. 99 Gianluca Mager of Italy, 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-4 and No. 335 Juan Manuel Cerundolo advanced over No. 119 Thiago Seyboth Wild of Brazil, 7-5, 7-6 (3).

The Cerundolos are the first Argentine brothers in the same tour-level singles main draw since Alejandro and Carlos Gattiker at Quito in 1981.

Meanwhile, four seeds were in action featuring withNo. 5 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain, No. 6 seed Dominik Koepfer of Germany, No. 7 seed Thiago Monteiro of Brazil and No. 8 seed Federico Delbonis of Argentina as first-round play continued.

Ramos-Violas defeated No. 88 Juan Ignacio Londero, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2; Koepfer lost to No. 95 Federico Coria of Argentina, 6-1, 6-4; Monteiro took out fellow Brazilian Joao Menezes, ranked 199th, 6-3, 6-3; and Delbonis advanced over No. 108 Pedro Sousa of Portugal, 6-4, 6-4.

Two seeds – No. 2 Benoit Paire of France and Delbonis – are in action on Wednesday. Paire faces wild card Nicolas Jarry of Chile and Delbonis opposes qualifier Facundo Bagnis of Argentina.

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