Murray Returns To Challenger Tour With Win In Rennes

Andy Murray (photo: Rémy Chautard)

RENNES/STARNBERG, September 14, 2021

Andy Murray made a successful return to the ATP Challenger Tour by winning his first-round match of the €66,640 Open Blot Rennes against World No. 240 Yannick Maden of Germany on Monday evening. The 34-year-old Briton was awarded a wild card into the main draw of the hard-court indoor tournament to compete on the Circuit for the first time since finishing runner-up to Illya Marchenko at the Biella Challenger Indoor 1 in February this year.

In front of packed stands on Court Central inside Le Liberté, fifth-seeded Murray, who lost in the opening round of the US Open to Stefanos Tsitsipas, showed a solid performance.

The World No. 116 struck eight aces and won 76 per cent of his first-service points to secure a 6-3, 6-1 victory in one hour and 12 minutes.

“I didn’t start very well, it was different conditions from New York. I was better in the second set, starting to return clean balls from the baseline,” Murray said, quoted by the Open Blot Rennes website and also explained his decision to play the tournament in Brittany:

“I’ve had a lot of matches this year, and my body is fine. The goal for the last few years has been to try and improve my ranking. For that, I have to compete often. I still feel that I can play at a very high level. Every time I go to a tournament I play a top player from the start, it’s not easy. I have to improve my ranking to avoid this. It’s a very nice venue here, everything is fine, the hotel is close. It’s great and I’m happy to be here.

“A lot of Challengers have good players, but it’s very special here. We have three former Top 10 players in the tournament, that’s rare. We should see some great matches. I’m expecting a big tournament. There are only good players here who have dedicated their lives to their favorite sport, very professional, that’s great.”

Up next for Murray will be either French qualifier Manuel Guinard or Russia’s Roman Safiullin.

“I want to try to win the tournament. It’s not going to be easy, but the most important thing is to keep going, getting my body used to playing two to three matches a week again,” Murray said.

Gasquet advances to second round

Later in the evening another big name stepped into action, as top seed Richard Gasquet began his title bid with a 7-6(4), 6-3 win over compatriot and wild card entry Kyrian Jacquet. The 35-year-old capitalized on two of his six break-point chances to advance after one hour and 42 minutes.

Gasquet will next take on the winner of the encounter between Brayden Schnur of Canada and French qualifier Clement Chidekh.

Elsewhere, Tristan Lamasine of France beat Go Soeda from Japan 7-6(4), 6-4 to set a second-round clash with German veteran Tobias Kamke or defending champion and No. 2 seed Arthur Rinderknech of France.