By Jake Davies

  • Andy Murray [WC] vs Stan Wawrinka [WC]
  • Cameron Norrie [WC] vs Marton Fucsovics [8]
EASTBOURNE, UNITED KINGDOM – Andy Murray makes a surprise return to Eastbourne as a wildcard and faces three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka in a huge first round match.

 

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Andy Murray [WC] vs Stan Wawrinka [WC] H2H: Murray leads 10-8

In the opening round of Eastbourne, Andy Murray has been drawn a huge first round match against three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka. It is a match that stood out from the rest when the draw was made and it is an important match for both as both players look to see how far along the line they are in terms of their recovery from long-term injuries.

Murray made his return to professional tennis last week in Queen’s where he lost a tight opening match against Nick Kyrgios, who then went on to make the semi-finals of the event. Murray showed promising signs that he is in a better place than the beginning of the year, but Eastbourne will give him that extra bit of reassurance and will provide a bit more of an indicator as to whether he should give Wimbledon a go in a week’s time.

The head-to-head between Murray and Wawrinka is particularly fascinating. Murray had that mental edge over Wawrinka at the beginning of their meetings, but that was before the Swiss turned himself into an elite Grand Slam winner by winning the 2014 Australian Open. The Brit got eight of his ten match-wins over Wawrinka before 2013, but Wawrinka has found much more joy in this match-up particularly in big matches at the majors.

I think that Murray has the edge in this match-up on a grass court. Murray gets much more out of his serve on the grass and he moves far better than the Swiss on this surface, which is why Wawrinka’s least successful major has been at Wimbledon. When both players are playing at their peak and playing the high-level tennis that they are capable of, Murray would win on most occasions on a grass court. Wawrinka has never beaten him on this surface and has never won a title on the grass, but the real concern is how close is Murray to where he needs to be to be challenging for titles again and competing at majors. We will find out on Murray’s second match back later in the week in Eastbourne.

Prediction: Murray in three sets

 

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Cameron Norrie [WC] vs Marton Fucsovics [8] H2H: First meeting

Cameron Norrie in the second round of Roland Garros, 2018

Cameron Norrie in the second round of Roland Garros, 2018 | (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

The British wildcard Cameron Norrie faces a rather tricky opening round in Eastbourne as he attempts to win his second match at the event against the ever improving Marton Fucsovics of Hungary. Norrie made his second ever appearance at an ATP event this time last year and managed to score his first win at this level as he beat Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos before losing out to No.2 seed Gael Monfils in the next round.

Fucsovics will be no pushover though. The Hungarian No.1 has really been carrying the weight of expectation from his country on his shoulders for years and has really found it hard to make that transition from being a world-class junior, winning major titles, to being a force to be reckoned with on the ATP tour.

Fucsovics claimed his first ATP title of his career earlier on in the clay court season in Geneva, but the issue for him has been bringing a high level each and every week, while trying to hit through his shots with his aggressive game-style. During that week in Geneva, Fucsovics beat big names through serving efficiently all week and maintaining the aggression on his forehand side, which can be very up-and-down on occasions.

Norrie is yet to win a grass-court match this season, but will be hoping he can draw upon the big match experience he has gathered in such a short space of time to set him up for a busy week in Eastbourne.

Prediction: Fucsovics in two sets

 

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