ATP

Andy Murray sets up Basilashvili showdown in Sydney, a repeat of Wimbledon battle

By Sports Desk January 11, 2022

Andy Murray swept through his opening test at the Sydney Classic as the wildcard grabbed his first win of the year.

Murray sped to a 6-3 6-1 victory over Norwegian Viktor Durasovic, a player ranked a lowly 345th by the ATP who won through two qualifying rounds to reach the main draw.

The Scot broke four times across the contest and won 25 of 26 points when landing a first serve, an encouraging rate. Realistically, anything other than a comfortable win for the former world number one would have been concerning ahead of the Australian Open.

Murray at least put last week's disappointing first-round loss to Facundo Bagnis at the Melbourne Summer Set tournament behind him, and now a stiff tests await him in the last-16 stage.

Georgian second seed Nikoloz Basilashvili is next for Murray on Wednesday, with the world number 23 a familiar foe after these two met in the first round at Wimbledon last July.

On that occasion, Murray won in four sets following a desperate wobble in the third, which he lost from 5-0 ahead.

Five times an Australian Open finalist, Murray believes limbering up this week in Sydney can set him up well for the season's first grand slam.

"It is perfect conditions here," Murray said. "It feels like you are playing indoors. It is really nice to get your range here, and hopefully I can carry that through to Melbourne.

"I was hoping to get matches in Melbourne last week, but that didn't happen. Thankfully the tournament organisers and Tennis Australia agreed to give me the wildcard and the opportunity to play here, and I am very grateful for that."

Tuesday also saw a win for Maxime Cressy, the American serve-volleyer who caused a stir with his run to last week's final in Melbourne before pushing eventual champion Rafael Nadal in the title match.

Cressy, who was born in Paris, is a throwback in an era dominated by baseliners, and his game again came good as he saw off Adrian Mannarino 6-3 7-5. Dusan Lajovic awaits him in round two after the Serbian beat Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

At the Adelaide International 2 tournament, South African fifth seed Lloyd Harris made a first-round exit, losing 5-7 7-5 6-4 to Soonwoo Kwon.

There was another positive performance from Adelaide's own Thanasi Kokkinakis, who swatted away Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-4 6-0 to tee up a second-round shot at American second seed John Isner.

Kokkinakis, a once-bright young prospect who is finding his way again on tour after injury trouble, reached the semi-finals of last week's Adelaide tournament and is eyeing another run in South Australia before heading to Melbourne.

"After a good run last week, I was pretty knackered – I'm not going to lie," Kokkinakis said, quoted in The Australian. "But I thought another one in my hometown was a perfect situation.

"It was kind of a win-win for me almost. If I won, perfect, I get more matches. If not, I get to Melbourne and get to prepare for Aussie Open, but I'm stoked with the win."

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    Kerber, who has won three grand slam titles, headed to Roland Garros in form on the back of a victory at the Internationaux de Strasbourg.

    The 34-year-old, whose last major title came at Wimbledon in 2018, is in the hunt for her first French Open title, which would complete the career Grand Slam.

    While that may seem unlikely for the world number 17, she took a step closer on Wednesday by defeating Elsa Jacquemot 6-1 7-6 (7-2).

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    "When you've achieved everything, you just play for the love for the game," Kerber explained after her win.

    "I love to play tennis, love to play here in front of you guys, love to play for the atmosphere and working really hard to play here, have the energy from the fans.

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  • French Open: Beaten Raducanu still learning but ready for 'more familiar' second year French Open: Beaten Raducanu still learning but ready for 'more familiar' second year

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    "We were saying with my team this morning: it's pretty much a year anniversary since my comeback to competitive tennis," she said. "I was playing a Brit tour in Connaught [in May 2021].

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    Andy Murray has hit out at the suggestion that Wimbledon will not feel as important without ranking points.

    The All England Club's decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing at the grand slam has resulted in the WTA and ATP stripping Wimbledon of any ranking points, which has led to the suggestion some players may skip the tournament.

    Naomi Osaka, the former WTA world number one and a three-time grand slam champion, suggested after her first-round exit at Roland Garros that she was considering missing Wimbledon as she feels the tournament may feel "like an exhibition".

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    Murray tweeted: "I follow golf very closely and have no idea how many ranking points the winner of The Masters gets.

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