By Ros Satar

  • Andy Murray [WC] def. Zhizhen Zhang [WC] 6-3 6-7(3) 4-2 RET
  • Faces top seed David Goffin in the second round
SHENZHEN, CHINA – It was a battle, but Andy Murray advanced to the second round after home favourite Zhizhen Zhang retired in the deciding set.

 

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Andy Murray [WC] def. Zhizhen Zhang [WC] 6-3 6-7(3) 4-2 RET

In his first match since the second round of the US Open, Andy Murray toiled and laboured on a disrupted day of scheduling, as he defeated fellow wildcard Zhang Zhizhen when the Chinese player retired after going down a break in the decider.

It started out solidly enough for the former Shenzhen champion as he swiftly went up a break for a 3-0 lead, breaking Zhang one more time before being pegged straight back. The advantage was enough though for Murray to capitalise on, with a serve out to love to capture the first set.

It was a lot more competitive in the second set, this time with Zhang putting pressure on Murray with a break. Murray eased back into the set to take them into a tie-break, but Zhang had another surge as he ran away with the tie-break to level the match.

However, it was not just match experience, but conditioning that told, as cramps took hold of Zhang, and he retired after going a break down to Murray in the decider.

As reported in ATPWorldTour.com, Murray said: “I felt he played very well after the first set. I just managed to fight hard, stay tough in the beginning of the third set and unfortunately for him, the cramps started. It was very difficult conditions.”

 

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Murray v David Goffin [1] | Murray leads H2H 5-1

David Goffin at the 2017 Nitto ATP World Tour Finals, London

Photo by AP/REX/ Shutterstock
David Goffin at the 2017 Nitto ATP World Tour Finals, London

Before we all get too excited at the head to head, while Murray appeared not to have any ill-effects as a result of a three hour match, he is still on his way back to conditioning. He will be facing David Goffin, who arrives off the back of Team Europe’s success in the Laver Cup.

Goffin’s only victory was in 2017 in Abu Dhabi as part of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition, and so the last real yard-stick will be their last tour-level encounter in Shanghai in 2016. This will have been when Murray was at his peak, and we all know he is a long way off that kind of form.

Goffin has had a steady run in the final US swing and has the kind of consistency we hope Murray can return to with the plan of a reconditioning and long training block after she shuts his season after Beijing.

The Belgian moves incredibly well, has steady ground-strokes and a fluid style to his play that disguises his lack of fire-power, but still gets the results. Murray at his peak would be able to got toe-to-toe around the court with Goffin, and even perhaps has a little more weapons at his disposal (and yes, we still remember that delicious Davis Cup-winning lob).

However, on top of a draining almost-three-setter, this might just be a task to far, but could serve as a decent platform for Murray to launch his training block from.

Prediction: Goffin in three sets.

Murray and Goffin will play their second round match on Thursday.

 

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