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Master of grass Murray rids himself of bad Tsitsipas memories – maybe just in time for Wimbledon

Andy Murray returns to the scene of his greatest glories at the end of this month off the back of some fine grass-court form

Andy Murray Andy Murray in Stuttgart (Imago/Panoramic)

Andy Murray might not have been thinking about it, but tennis fans across the world certainly were. The last time he played Stefanos Tsitsipas was at the US Open last autumn. The three-time Grand Slam champion went two sets to one up, then had the rhythm of his game knocked by the Greek’s extended bathroom break.

This meeting in Stuttgart gave Tsitsipas no such opportunity to regroup. Murray edged a close first-set tiebreak and then dealt out a sound grass-court masterclass to secure a 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory, and move into the semi-finals.

And, again, the former world No 1 might not have been counting the months – but he will certainly know by now that it was his first win over a Top 5 player since he beat Novak Djokovic en route to winning the 2016 ATP Finals.

Surbiton before Stuttgart

The 35-year-old’s decision to take a month off, skip Roland-Garros and prepare for the grass-court season is starting to look a very wise one. He reached the semi-finals in Surbiton last week, with a disappointing loss in the semi-final against Denis Kudla.

However, what’s perhaps more pertinent is that he played three matches in three days in Surbiton, with two in two days so far in Germany – with the Round of 16 win over Alexander Bublik as well as the Tsitsipas victory both requiring one set to be settled via a tiebreak.

I felt like I had very few chances, but when he was creating chances on my serve, I stayed strong

Andy Murray

“I thought I did well,” said an evidently happy Murray with characteristic understatement on the court afterwards. “He served unbelievably in the first set. “I felt like I had very few chances, but when he was creating chances on my serve, I stayed strong. I played a really solid tiebreak and in the second set, once I was in the rallies, I felt like I was dictating a lot of the points. It was a good performance.”

Since his well-documented fitness issues – including the now-famous hip replacement – there have been questions asked about whether he might be physically capable of making it all the way through a tournament, particularly a gruelling Grand Slam campaign with the extra wear and tear of best-of-five. It seems clear that with coach Ivan Lendl back in his camp as from the start of March, Murray feels much happier all round.

His run in Stuttgart has so far improved his grass-court record to 113-23. With a decimated Wimbledon field – partly through injury, partly through the political circumstances – Murray must be thinking about his chances of making a deep run on the courts that he loves the most.

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