ATP

Rublev ready for Murray 'fight' in Rotterdam, Tsitsipas through

By Sports Desk March 02, 2021

Andrey Rublev will face Andy Murray at the Rotterdam Open after the Russian battled past Marcos Giron 7-6 (7-1) 6-3.

The appetising showdown between Rublev and former world number one Murray was handed a primetime evening slot on Wednesday's schedule by tournament organisers, given the appeal of a clash between one of the ATP Tour's brightest younger stars and the three-time grand slam winner.

World number eight Rublev is, at the age of 23, among the band of players who have emerged as potential torchbearers for the men's tour once the likes of Murray and the big three of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic make way.

After wildcard Murray's win over Robin Haase on Monday, Rublev secured victory on Tuesday against 80th-ranked Giron, who earned his place in the ATP 500 tournament through qualifying.

Murray and Rublev have played only once before, in entirely different circumstances to those surrounding Wednesday's match. That previous encounter came at the Australian Open in 2017, with Murray, then ranked number one in the world, scorching to a 6-3 6-0 6-2 win in round two.

The Scot has since undergone major surgery on a hip problem that has threatened to end his career, and heads into his clash with Rublev ranked 123rd in the world but eager to show he can compete at a high level.

"Andy is a true legend and I have a really good connection with him. I really like him as a person and as a player. He destroyed me once in the past. I'm sure we'll have great, long rallies and it will be a fight," Rublev said, quoted via the ATP website.

Australian Open semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas passed his first-round test by scoring a narrow win over a player that beat Murray in Montpellier last week – the second seed and world number six overcoming Belarusian Egor Gerasimov 7-6 (7-4) 7-5.

The tournament lost a three-time grand slam champion when Stan Wawrinka was edged out 6-4 7-5 by Russian Karen Khachanov in a tough first-round matchup for the Swiss, who sits just one place above the Russian at number 20 in the world rankings.

Alex de Minaur beat fellow Australian John Millman 6-1 6-4, while top seed Australian Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev begins his challenge on Wednesday when he tackles Serbian Dusan Lajovic.

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    It took Tan three hours and 11 minutes to claim the scalp of the seven-time Wimbledon winner, eventually winning the match 7-5 1-6 7-6 (10-7).

    The SW19 debutant twice broke back in the third set, even setting up a match point which Williams saved before the eventual tie-break, and rallied from a 4-0 deficit in the tie-break to emerge victorious.

    Despite the resolve shown and delight with the win on Centre Court at the All England Club, the 24-year-old revealed she nervously came into the contest.

    "[Serena] is a superstar and when I was young I was watching her so many times on the TV," Tan said post-match. "For my first Wimbledon, it's wow. Just wow.

    "When I saw the draw, I was really scared. Because, yeah, it's Serena Williams. She's a legend and I was like, 'Oh my God, how can I play?' If I could win one game or two games, it was really good for me.

    "I would like to thank everybody today and my team and my coach Nathalie Tauziat, who also played Serena. Thank you so much for being with me."

    Tan will now face 32nd seed Sara Sorribes Tormo, who defeated American qualifier Christina McHale 6-2 6-1.

  • Wimbledon: Serena Williams stunned by Tan in three-set marathon Wimbledon: Serena Williams stunned by Tan in three-set marathon

    Serena Williams' hopes of a winning a record-equalling 24th grand slam title at Wimbledon are over after she was beaten by the unheralded Harmony Tan in an epic first-round match.

    Williams went down 7-5 1-6 7-6 (10-7) on Centre Court in her first singles match since being forced to withdraw in the opening round of last year's tournament at the All England Club, when she suffered a hamstring injury during a contest with Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

    The seven-time Wimbledon champion's much-heralded comeback proved to be an almighty battle and it was the SW19 debutant from France who came out on top late on Tuesday evening.

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    Tan broke three times in a back-and-forth first set, with Williams unable to keep her at bay during the seventh game despite the world number 115 seeing three break points come and go before winning the fourth.

    The underdog's slice in particular proved to be difficult for the 40-year-old - 16 years senior to her opponent - to counter, and the former world number one seemed to need the break afforded by the roof closure on Centre Court to regather herself.

    Williams stamped her authority on the match in the second set to force a decider, breaking twice as she surged into a 5-0 lead before serving it out.

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    Williams was able to force a tie-break after saving a match point, and surged into a 4-0 lead - but Tan rallied once more to seize back the momentum, and celebrated a famous win after her legendary opponent netted a forehand.

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