By Ros Satar

  • Andy Murray v Tennys Sandgren | Sandgren leads H2H 1-0
  • Cameron Norrie def. Peter Gojowczyk 6-1 6-4
  • Norrie v Gael Monfils [3]
ZHUHAI, CHINA – Cameron Norrie set up a second round meeting with No. 3 seed Gael Monfils, while Andy Murray faces Tennys Sandgren for a second time this year.

 

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Andy Murray v Tennys Sandgren | Sandgren leads H2H 1-0

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This week has been one of expectation setting for former World No. 1 and three-time Slam champion Andy Murray. As reported by BBC Sport, as he gets ready to continue his singles comeback in Zhuhai, Murray said: “I’m not expecting to get back to my very best. I think it would be probably a bit naive and silly to think that would be the case.

“I do feel like tennis-wise I can still compete at the highest level in terms of my skill, it’s just whether physically I can get to a high enough level to be competitive right at the top.”

He faces a formidable challenge in a rematch against the somewhat divisive Tennys Sandgren. The American beat Murray in Winston Salem in just his second match back since that emotional almost-retirement match at the Australian Open.

It was a close match against Sandgren, losing a lengthy tie-break and catching up to the American as he got tight trying to serve out the match. Murray looked a lot more cohesive when he dropped down to the Challenger level during the US Open, but three matches in a row took its toll as his body started cramping and he was edged out in three sets.

There will be a lot of scrutiny in his movement, and overall match fitness. Sandgren made it to the third round at the US Open, and this will be his first match since then.

An in-form Murray has generally little to fear from Sandgren, who had his moment of fame/infamy at the Australian Open with a run to the quarter-final. He beat our very own Cameron Norrie earlier this year in Auckland at the start of the season, and then did not win another match until he dropped down to Challenger level. He picked up the pace on grass, but largely has been unremarkable.

However he has more matches in his legs than Murray and although the Brit’s tenacity held him in longer in the Winston Salem match, Sandgren won out after a very nervy patch. For both it has been a while and all eyes once more will be on Murray’s range of movement, and more importantly his recoverability in what looks to be a busy run in to the end of the season for him.

Prediction: Murray in three sets.

 

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Cameron Norrie def. Peter Gojowczyk 6-1 6-4

Cameron Norrie in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open, ATP Indian Wells 2018

Photo by MIKE NELSON/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock |
Cameron Norrie in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open, ATP Indian Wells 2018

In a packed day of Brits in action in China, Norrie banished all memories of that complete heart-breaker of a fifth set loss at the US Open with a sharp performance against Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk.

The first set was textbook pressure by Norrie, breaking twice in a row to build up a comfortable double break lead as the German at least managed to find the board in the set. He made it a more competitive affair in the second set, denying Norrie’s first push at a break but unable to stop the Brit from taking the advantage the next time around.

From there it was simply good court management by the Brit, holding on to the advantage and comfortably closing out his place in the second round.

 

Norrie v Gael Monfils [3]

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Next up for the British No. 3 is Gael Monfils. The flamboyant Frenchman continues to switch between inspired and just crowd-pleasing, with results to match, he was last seen in action in the quarter-final of the US Open, and so Norrie might be able to exploit a little rust in the Frenchman’s game.

One thing is for sure, Monfils will make this a much more physical battle. His athleticism will see him generally hurling himself here, there and everywhere, and Norrie will do well to keep up with him, but the Brit’s game is built on consistency rather than the more showy shots to get a crowd going.

If he can keep his head down and stay with the Frenchman’s trademark knack of placement and pace, then he stands a great chance off taking a set off him. He lost to the Frenchman and in Eastbourne a couple of years ago, but grass is not a surface you would necessarily associate with Norrie, but on a hard court could be a different kettle of fish.

Prediction: Monfils in three sets.

Murray and Sandgren are scheduled on Centre Court, not before 7:30pm (12:30 BST), with Norrie and Monfils likely to be scheduled for Wednesday.

 

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