Andy Murray relishes his first clash with Novak Djokovic in over five years

Andy Murray enjoy a first encounter with Novak Djokovic in more than five years after beating Canada Denis Shapovalov in three sets Madrid To open.

Murray defeated world number 14 Shapovalov 6-1 3-6 6-2 in two hours and nine minutes to set up a last-16 match against old foe and world number one Djokovic.

The rivals have known each other since they were children and have faced each other 36 times during their professional career.

“He’s number one in the world and I have a metal hip,” Murray told Amazon Prime.

“I didn’t know that I would have the opportunity to play games like this again. In theory, I shouldn’t have any luck in the game.

“But I worked my best, put myself in a great position and it’s a fantastic opportunity to play against him again on a big pitch in a huge tournament.”

The 34-year-old Scotsman, who marked his return to clay for the first time in two years in Madrid with a straight-sets win over Dominic Thiem in the first round, proved too strong for Shapovalov in the deciding set.

Murray took an early lead, breaking Shapovalov’s serve twice before winning the first set in 36 minutes.

The British number three, behind Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans in the national rankings, put more pressure on Shapovalov’s serve in the fifth game of the second set.

But Murray squandered two break points and was broken for the first time in the game the following game to trail 5-2 before Shapovalov served to level the game at a set after an hour and 25 minutes.

The deciding set went on serve until game five, before Murray grabbed his first break point of the set to take a 4-2 lead.

The Scot, currently 78th in the ATP rankings, held 5-2 again and took a 40-0 lead on Shapovalov’s serve before sealing another impressive victory on his third match point.

“I’ve been training really hard over the last four or five weeks and playing well,” Murray said of his performance after the game.

“My movement has been so much better than at the start of the year and that makes a huge difference to my overall game.

“It allows me to make different decisions on the pitch. My move got me this game tonight. I defended so many points.

Andy Murray celebrates his victory over Austria’s Dominic Thiem during their match at the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid (Manu Fernandez/AP)

“(Shapovalov) has so much power and I managed to defend a lot of points and that won the game for me, so I was really happy about that.”

Murray has reversed his decision to skip the entire season on clay after receiving a wild card for Madrid and four weeks of training on the surface appear to have paid off.

Murray hasn’t played against Djokovic since the Qatar Open in January 2017, when the Briton was world number one. The Serb won in three sets.

Djokovic praised the Scot for his determination to get back into shape after undergoing two hip surgeries – first in 2018 and then again in 2019 when his pain persisted.

(Andy Murray has) made his mark in the history of our sport by winning several Slams and gold medals and (reaching) world No. It’s one of the most important names we have.

Novak Djokovic

The Serb told the ATP circuit website: “(Murray) moves well, plays better and better. It’s really fantastic to see, because he’s an important player for our game.

“He made his mark in the history of our sport by winning multiple Slams and gold medals and (reaching) world number 1. It’s one of the most important names we have.

“To see him still compete is great, and to even have him play at (a) high level over time is impressive, given the surgery and what he’s been through in recent years. His resilience and fighting spirit are truly inspiring.

Djokovic beat Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-3 6-2 in his second-round match after being granted a first-round bye.

Andy Murray relishes his first clash with Novak Djokovic in over five years

Source link Andy Murray relishes his first clash with Novak Djokovic in over five years

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