Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka wrote another chapter in their long-running rivalry on Monday at the Western & Southern Open, where the Scotsman advanced with a hard-fought 7-6(3), 5-7 win , 7-5 in Cincinnati.
The former world No. 1 showed his fighting skills in the two-hour, 34-minute opening round match as he raced around the baseline to grab points. He also caused damage with his backhand, as he recovered from a breakdown in the third set to move up to 13-9 in their ATP Head2Head series.
“The pitch is quite lively when it’s like that. Physically, I feel tired,” Murray said during his on-court interview. “I had some cramping issues during the game, like in Washington, so that’s something I need to get on top of.
“I tried to take the ball a bit more and finish the points at the net. I wasn’t as successful when I arrived, but the intention was there. I was a little more offensive on the return of the second serve. The last game, I was just fighting, trying to find a way.
After his epic win in two hours and 54 minutes, the Scot now holds a 35-14 record in Cincinnati, having lifted the trophy in 2008 and 2011. The 35-year-old will be looking to taste further success on the court hard. event when he takes on Cameron Norrie in the second round after the ninth seed edged #NextGenATP Dane Holger Rune 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4.
“He’s very different from the way Stan plays, being a southpaw,” Murray said of his match against Norrie. “Flat on the backhand, heavy topspin on the forehand. We’ve had some time together on the court, so there won’t be many surprises for me.
Murray arrived in Ohio following a disappointing first-round outing in Montreal last week. However, the 46-time tour-level champion has shown signs of promise this season, reaching finals in Sydney and Stuttgart, helping him climb back into the Top 50 of the Pepperstone ATP rankings for the first time since 2018.
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In a close battle in Ohio, there was little to separate world number 47 Murray and Wawrinka in the opening set. The Scot consistently found depth in his tight groundstrokes as he looked to force the 37-year-old into mistakes, which combined moments of magic with erratic play. After both remained strong on serve, a tie-break was left to decide the opener, with Murray winning the set when Wawrinka fired a long forehand.
Wawrinka refused to leave in the second set, however, and was rewarded for his attacking play in game eight when he broke to lead 5-3. After failing to serve the set, the three-time Grand Slam champion finally equalized when he broke Murray again in the 12th game.
With both players fatigued in a physical third set, it was Murray who found extra gear despite several medical timeouts. The Scot battled 0-2 down as he held close to the baseline and stayed in the rallies, eventually breaking to lead 6-5 before managing to triumph. Murray let out a roar and threw his arms in the air as he sealed the game on his third match point
Wawrinka was aiming for his first hard-court match victory since the 2021 Australian Open. The Swiss star was competing in the ATP Masters 1000 event for the 13th time, with his best result coming in the semi-finals in 2012.
In other action, John Isner defeated Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi 7-6(11), 3-6, 7-6(4). The American, who fired 31 aces, saved three set points in the third set before finally booking his place in the second round after two hours and 25 minutes.
John Isner survives a third-set tie-break to overtake Benjamin Bonzi.” style=”width: 100%;” />
Photo credit: Mike Lawrence/ATP Tour
Isner will face Montreal finalist and doubles partner Hubert Hurkacz in the second round.