Safiullin Sends Murray Packing At Open Blot Rennes

Andy Murray (photo: Rémy Chautard)

RENNES/STARNBERG, September 16, 2021

Roman Safiullin headlined Wednesday’s second-round action at the Open Blot Rennes by knocking out No. 5 seed and wild card entry Andy Murray of Great Britain. In the pair’s first meeting, the 24-year-old Russian secured a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 victory on a packed Center Court at Le Liberté in Rennes, France.

Safiullin, who clinched his first and so far lone ATP Challenger title on French soil in Cherbourg last year, fired 14 aces and won 71 per cent of his first-service points to succeed after one hour and 50 minutes.

“I had a good start into the match. In the first set I played really well, and maybe he wasn’t having a good day. In the second he started to play well and I threw in some points, but in the third I finished well,” Safiullin said.

“Obviously it’s a great feeling to beat this player, but I think he wasn’t in very good shape. I’m happy because he’s fighting for every point, and everyone knows he can send anything back.”

Safiullin will next play top seed Richard Gasquet. The World No. 85 from France eased past local qualifier Clement Chidekh in 68 minutes.

Murray will stay in France competing in next week’s Moselle Open ATP 250 tournament in Metz.

Bonzi, Pouille open title bid with win

Earlier in the day, Benjamin Bonzi, a five-time ATP Challenger champion this season, continued his fine run of form with a 6-3, 6-2 first-round win over Elias Ymer from Sweden. The No. 3 seed from France won 56 per cent of the total points played to advance after one hour and 30 minutes.

It’s clear that it’s going pretty well right now, I hope it continues,” Bonzi said. “It’s not easy to go through tournaments, under different conditions. Fortunately, it’s nice to be in these conditions here, with such a good crowd on Center Court. I’m going to try to do my best this week, there are still plenty of matches to play, we’re going to prepare as well as possible and we’ll see.”

Bonzi will next take on Kacper Zuk from Poland.

In other first-round action, No. 6 seed Lucas Pouille emerged victorious from the all-French battle with Maxime Janvier, winning 5-7, 6-4, 6-3. The 27-year-old from Grande-Synthe, who finished runner-up to Bonzi at last week’s Cassis Open Provence, broke his compatriot’s serve two times to prevail after exactly two hours of play.

“It’s a great victory, it was hard to find the right way into the match but I managed to stay in it,” said Pouille. “My physical problems are behind me, I hope for as long as possible. It’s great to play in front of packed stands, especially after this long period of playing in empty halls. I’m very happy to be here, in this great atmosphere.”

Pouille will next face fellow Frenchman Antoine Hoang.