Murray to face Pouille, Edmund loses to Wawrinka

 

By Michael Stafford-Jones

  • Andy Murray [2] def. Steve Johnson 6-3 6-2
  • Stan Wawrinka [3] def. Kyle Edmund 6-3 6-4
  • Murray will next face Lucas Pouille, who beat Nicolas Almagro 6-4 7-6(10) in round two
SHANGHAI, CHINA – Andy Murray dispatched Steve Johnson with ease to earn a clash with Lucas Pouille, while Kyle Edmund played well at times but lost in straight sets to Stan Wawrinka.

 

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Andy Murray [2] def. Steve Johnson 6-3 6-2

Murray marched into the Shanghai Masters third round with a comprehensive 6-3 6-2 win over Johnson that took just 76 minutes.

After saving a break point in the opening game, the Brit served and returned well superbly throughout the rest of the match. Consequently, the American never had any real opportunities to make an impression on proceedings and was easily beaten.

Although Murray rarely looked troubled, there were some good, competitive points in the opening set during which Johnson demonstrated some of the tennis that has seen him rise up the rankings this year. However, even those hard-fought points typically ended either with a winner from the Brit or an error from the American.

The second set was more routine for Murray, as he broke Johnson in the third game to assume total control of the match. A wasteful service game from the American handed the Scot a double break advantage at 4-1, and two simple holds later it was all over when the world number two put away an easy overhead.

 

Stan Wawrinka [3] def. Kyle Edmund 6-3 6-4

The miracle win for Edmund never materialised, and in truth it never looked like it was going to, as Wawrinka produced a polished performance to see off the ever-improving Brit 6-3 6-4.

Set one rocketed by as both players rained down unreturnable serves to hold with ease until the eighth game. Then Edmund produced a nightmarish service game and Wawrinka capitalised and broke him to love. Moments later the Swiss wrapped up the first set. It only took 24 minutes.

When Edmund was broken again in the opening game of set two and fell 2-0 down within minutes, it briefly

seemed like he might let this match go without a fight. Happily, he banished such notions by saving two break points in his next service game, then unleashed powerful, accurate groundstrokes to break Wawrinka back.

After that flurry of closely-fought games, the set slipped back into a familiar pattern of easy holds until the ninth game. At 30-30 on the Brit’s serve, the Swiss saw his chance and stepped up his aggression to earn the crucial break.

There was almost a twist right at the end, as Edmund forced three break points when Wawrinka attempted to serve for the match. However, the Swiss held firm to wrap up a straight-sets victory and set up a meeting with Gilles Simon in round three.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Wawrinka praised Edmund: “I saw him play the last few days. This year he’s been playing really well. I was expecting a really tough match because he’s improving a lot. He’s a dangerous player.”

 

Andy Murray [2] v Lucas Pouille [13] H2H: 1-0

All parts of Murray’s game looked in good working order against Johnson, and he will need to produce a similarly high standard to beat Pouille. The Frenchman is enjoying an excellent 2016 and won his first ATP tournament last month in Metz, so he will be full of confidence ahead of the clash.

Victory over Rafael Nadal at the US Open will also help Pouille believe he can upset the odds against Murray. There is no doubt he has the kind of game that can trouble the best in the world, and the Brit is well-aware of his talents.

After his win over Johnson, Murray told Sky Sports: “It will be a hard match (against Pouille). He goes for his shots, serves well and is quick around the court. He takes quite a lot of risks out there, and likes the big matches. He is very consistent in his results and I will try and put in a good performance to get through it if I can.”

Murray and Pouille have played once before, in the Rome semi-final in May, and on that occasion the Brit took apart his inexperienced opponent 6-2 6-1. The Frenchman has improved significantly since then, and it is likely to be a much closer encounter this time. The world number two should focus on finishing points as quickly as he can. At Flushing Meadows, Nadal found out to his cost what can happen to a player who allows the Frenchman to draw them into long rallies.

If Pouille can drag Murray into a lengthy baseline battle, it could be a superb match for neutrals to watch. I believe he is capable of doing this and think the Brit may be forced to tough it out to win a three-set epic.

Prediction: Murray in three sets

 

Murray v Pouille is scheduled third on Stadium court – not before 11am UK time.

 

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