Andy Murray falls to 158th-ranked Roman Safiullin at Rennes Challenger
Andy Murray was knocked out of the Rennes Challenger in northwest France by 24-year-old Russian Roman Safiullin.
Andy Murray has beefed up his schedule in the coming months in the hopes that he can rebuild his ranking and leap back into the ATP’s top-100 for the first time since May 28, 2018, but the three-time Grand Slam champion hit a speed bump at the Rennes Challenger on Wednesday, as he was knocked out of the draw by 24-year-old Roman Safiullin of Russia, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.
Murray, a fifth-seeded wild card, was broken five times and only managed to win 35 percent of his second serve points against the world No 158.
“Obviously it’s a great feeling to beat this player, but I think he was not in very good shape,” Safiullin said. “I’m happy because he’s fighting for every point, and everyone knows he can send anything back.”
Safiullin saved a break point early in the third set and didn’t look back from there, as he reeled off five consecutive games to lead 5-0 before Murray got on the board.
The Russian cracked 14 aces and managed a first-serve percentage of 78 percent as he won 57 of 73 points behind his first offering, and 16 of 19 in the critical third set.
Wild Cards at Metz, then San Diego for Murray
The Russian will move on to face Richard Gasquet in the quarter-finals at Rennes, while Murray will head to Metz, France, where he has taken a main draw wild card for next week’s event. The following week, Murray will cross the pond to play the San Diego Open in California, where he has also been granted a wild card.
“The goal for the last few years has been to try and improve my ranking,” Murray told reporters after his round of 32 victory over Yannick Maden (6-3, 6-1) in Rennes. For that, I have to compete often. I still feel that I can play at a very high level.”
Murray drops to 11-9 on the season at all levels. At the ATP level in 2021 the former world No 1 owns a 6-7 record.