Following a nearly three-hour duel of champions, Andy Murray prevailed over Stan Wawrinka to advance in the last ATP Masters 1000 event ahead of the U.S. Open on Monday at the Western & Southern Open.
Playing their 22nd match at tour level, former world number one Andy Murray and three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka delivered vintage performances in Ohio, with the former emerging victorious 7-6(3), 5-7, 7-5, after two hours and 58 minutes.
In his on-court interview, World No. 47 outlined: “The court is pretty lively when the weather is like this. Physically I feel tired. I had some issues with cramps during the match, the same as Washington, so that is something I need to get on top of.”
In an epic match, both legendary fighters showcased some of their best trademark shots, producing breathtaking rallies as a series of costly mistakes, balancing play throughout the encounter. The rollercoaster of emotions electrified the spectators, keeping them at the edge of their seats.
After the match, the 46-time ATP titlist assessed his performance: “I tried to take the ball on a little more and finish points at the net. I wasn’t that successful when I came up, but the intention was there.
“I was a little more offensive on the second-serve return. Last game, I was just fighting, trying to find a way through.”
They fought themselves, challenging their physical limits; Murray suffered cramps, requiring medical time-outs, and Wawrinka, lacking match fitness, also requested assistance from the physio in the second and third set.
Day 1 in Cincinnati saw the 35-year-old Scot come on top in the opener after claiming the tiebreak 7-6(3).
In the second set, the Swiss player found his way back into the match; serving well, he produced a pivotal double break (8th and 12th game), recording a 7-5 win, setting the score one set apiece to force a decider.
The two-time champion and the 37-year-old continued their intense clash, decided by small margins.
After nearly three hours of play, the Stuttgart finalist captured his 13th career victory over the former World No. 3, capitalizing on his rival mistakes.
From the baseline, the Glasgow native succeeded in recovering from a break down, sealing a demanding third set 7-5.
Overall, Murray hit 28 winners (10 aces), winning 80 percent of his first-serve points, 49 percent with his second, committing 29 unforced errors, and converting three of five breakpoint opportunities.
For his part, Wawrinka fired 38 winners (11 aces), winning 71 percent of his first-serve points, 62 with his second, recording 43 unforced errors, converting three of six breakpoints.
Next, a second-round meeting with Cameron Norrie awaits the 14-time Masters 1000 winner.
Earlier in the day, the 26-year-old Briton rallied to overcome World No. 29 Holger Rune 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4 after two hours and 33 minutes.
Asked about the ninth seed, Murray stressed: “He is very different to how Stan plays, being a lefty. Flat on the backhand, heavy topspin on the forehand. We have spent a little bit of time on the court together, so there won’t be many surprises out there for me.”
He leads Norrie in their Head2Head series 1-0, having faced one another in Beijing 2019.
The former’s physical condition will be crucial to keep his chances alive against the Los Cabos runner-up on Wednesday.
The two-time gold medallist has gone strength from strength on his recovery path from multiple hip operations (2017, 2019), but this season has been his best in terms of results ever since.
He found his way back into the Top 100 early in February in Rotterdam for the first time since 2018.
The hard work has made him go the distance, currently sitting at World No. 47, having reached two finals in 2022 (Stuttgart and Sydney).
Meanwhile, Norrie has captured his four ATP titles in the last two seasons, including the 2021 Masters 1000 crown in Indian Wells. After a series of good results, he sits at World No. 11, knocking back at the Top 10 door.