After another miracle Andy Murray says he feels better about his body than he ever has in his career

Andy Murray continues to find dramatic ways to win in 2023. His latest endeavor, at Doha, included three match points saved.

Andy Murray 2023 Australian Open Andy Murray 2023 Australian Open || AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Never mind the slow start. The finish is what made Andy Murray’s first-round victory over Lorenzo Sonego (4-6, 6-1 7-6(4)) special. On Monday at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha the 35-year-old once again showed his steel as he saved three match points to knock off talented Lorenzo Sonego.

It’s par for the course for the former world No 1 in 2023.

In January Murray saved a match point against No 13-seeded Matteo Berrettini to earn a spot in the second round at the Australian Open. He followed up that momentous win with his 11th career comeback from two sets to love down against Thanasi Kokkinakis to reach the third round – a five hour and 45-minute epic that ended at 4:05 AM.

This week the venue is different but the drama has clearly followed the three-time Slam champion from Melbourne.

Murray saved three match points while serving at 4-5 in the final set on Monday, and eventually edged the Italian to earn a second-round clash with Alexander Zverev in Germany.

Murray: “I served really well”

In an up-and-down match Murray delivered his biggest magic against Sonego with his back against the wall. He was down 15-40, 4-5, and got to deuce before facing another match point. The world No 70 was able to deliver his best serving and then rally from 3-0 down in the tiebreak to earn his third win of 2023.

“Obviously the 5-4 game, because we played some great points in that game, but when I needed to, I served really well in that game,” Murray said. “I hit two very good first serves to save two of the match points.

“Then, in the tiebreak, I can’t remember exactly what happened there, but obviously he was up 3-0, I think serving [made the difference] as well maybe. He obviously has the opportunity to close the match there, but I also finished the tiebreak well.”

Murray said the match had a strange cadence, with long stretches of uneventful tennis. All the while, he had to be prepared to step up in the important moments to earn this signature win.

“There was a lot of key moments, but there was also quite a large period of the match where there wasn’t that much happening, as well, because I was holding serve comfortably, and then third set he started to hold comfortably, as well, until right at the end,” he said. “Yeah, interesting one. Did well to get through it.”

On the tough moments – “I find it easier to concentrate”

Murray says that he’s proud of the way he has always been able to answer the bell in key moments, like the ones he has faced on a consistent basis in 2023.

“This is something that probably helped me in my career, but in those moments I find it easier to concentrate and focus,” he said. “I feel like a strength of mine in those moments is that I’m able, because I’m concentrating really hard in those moments, is that my decision-making on the court improves because of that.”

“The fact that I was able to play for nearly five hours against Berrettini and then physically was able to manage another really long match afterwards has given me a lot more belief in my body, maybe more than I have had at any stage in my career, to be honest.”

Andy Murray

Murray: “Physically I knew I was going to be okay”

In his post-match press conference Murray alluded to the hard yards he has put in, during the off-season and during his post Australian Open training block. He says that his success in Melbourne has enabled him to believe in his physicality more than he has in years.

“I have trained really well since Melbourne,” he said. “I pushed myself physically really hard since the end of last season. Obviously saw the benefits of that in Australia and the matches that I played, trying to carry on that path as much as I can.

“Even though tonight’s match was 7-6 in the third and it was two-and-a-half hours, the fact that I was able to play for nearly five hours against Berrettini and then physically was able to manage another really long match afterwards has given me a lot more belief in my body, maybe more than I have had at any stage in my career, to be honest, and it’s because I have not had many of those experiences of playing four hours and 50 minutes and then playing another really long match afterwards.

“So that was really positive for me. So I knew physically I was going to be okay.”

Zverev showdown lingers

In the second round at Doha Murray will meet fourth-seeded Zverev for the first time since 2021, and the fourth time overall. The Scot holds the 2-1 lifetime edge, and is aware of the fact that the German is still a tad undercooked at the moment as he makes his comeback from a severe ankle injury.

“He’s obviously one of the top players in the world,” said Murray of Zverev on court. “He had a bad injury at [Roland-Garros] last year and is just coming back from that. He’s going to be improving every week just now.

“He’s not quite at the level he was back in the middle of last year, but injuries like that take time. It will be another great match, hopefully I can keep building on this one.”

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