Murray and Evans both triumphant on return in Dubai

 

By Jake Davies

  • Andy Murray [1] defeats Malek Jaziri 6-4 6-1
  • Dan Evans defeats Dustin Brown 6-2 6-3
  • Murray to play Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in Dubai Round 2
  • Next up for Dan Evans is Gael Monfils in the second round.
DUBAI, UAE – Andy Murray played his first match since losing in the fourth round of the Australian Open and Dan Evans made his return from a foot injury in his first match back since the brilliant Davis Cup win over Canada.

 

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Andy Murray [1] defeats Malek Jaziri 6-4 6-1

A lot was written about Andy Murray on what sort of form we would see from the World No.1 in his visit back to the singles court after a disappointing stay Down Under. The difficult thing about being the World No.1 player is that you cannot afford any dips in form long term if you really want to stay at the highest peak of the rankings for a long period of time. It was essential for Murray to hit the ground running straight away in order to maintain the gap between him and World No.2 Novak Djokovic.

Murray kickstarted his sixth showing at Dubai with the desired result by beating the Tunisian Malek Jaziri in straight sets. Dubai is a tournament that Murray has had mixed fortunes in in the past, with his last match here in 2015, where he won just four games off Croatia’s Borna Coric.

The World No.1 went down an early break to the Tunisian, but broke back immediately before breaking again to shut the door on the first set. As the match prolonged it became a much more physical task for Jaziri, who struggled with the humidity and tried his best to shorten the points against Murray. The Tunisian bizarrely spoke to the trainer in the fourth game of the second set at 0-40 down, but did not win another game on resumption as Murray took the match in comfortable fashion.

 

Andy Murray [1] vs Guillermo Garcia-Lopez H2H: Murray leads 2-1

Murray may find it difficult to win the Dubai title this year, but he should come through his second round opponent Guillermo Garcia-Lopez with ease. The Spaniard has had a horrific 2017 season. He lost his first five matches without winning a single set until Delray Beach last week and is starting to show signs that maybe his long career may be coming to an end as he approaches his 34th birthday.

On the other hand, Garcia-Lopez has beaten Murray in the past. He claimed his only win over Murray at the 2012 Indian Wells tournament, which is an event that Murray usually is more vulnerable than other tournaments and has lost some very questionable matches over the years in that event.

I think Murray will win in straight sets. The Brit now has some competitive matches under his belt, having played doubles and singles in Dubai and should put Garcia-Lopez to the sword in this second round match-up.

Prediction: Murray in two sets

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Dan Evans defeats Dustin Brown 6-2 6-3

The British No.2 player Dan Evans romped through his first round match in Dubai, dropping just the five games against Germany’s Dustin Brown. The conditions were always going to play a huge factor in this match and the Brit seemed to thrive in the humidity. Both players showed their magic and feel at the net, but Evans was the much better player from the baseline and had much more layers to his game, while Brown’s game can be effective, but is extremely one-dimensional at times. Now, Evans will prepare for a match against Gael Monfils knowing that a win will put him inside the World’s Top 40 for the first time in his career, which is remarkable given the position Evans was in all those years ago.

 

Dan Evans vs Gael Monfils [4] H2H: First meeting

Through making two Grand Slam Quarter-Finals, progressing to his first Grand Slam semi-final in eight years and reaching a career high of No.6 in the world, Monfils’ 2016 season really was a special one. He is always a dangerous player to come up against because of his extremely unpredictable approach to tennis and that he has every shot in the playbook. The hard part about playing the Frenchman in 2017 is that he is a lot more efficient than previous years. He now recognises that perhaps he was not getting the best out of his tennis and that he had underachieved considerably for a man of his many talents.

Will Monfils choose to be patient from the back of the court or will he really try to throw everything at the British No.2? For Evans, the game plan has to be to remain aggressive but to be prepared for the extra ball to come back from the Frenchman. Controlled aggression is the key for Evans to win this match, but it could prove very difficult if Monfils is feeling great about his game and is serving big on first and second serves.

Prediction: Monfils in three sets

Evans and Monfils are scheduled on Centre Court not before 3:30pm (11:30am GMT); Murray and Garcia-Lopez are scheduled on Centre Court not before 7pm (3pm GMT).

 

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