Murray Masters Foki In Gijon

Under pressure early from Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Tuesday at the Gijon Open, Andy Murray found a moment of magic to trigger a stunning turnaround at the ATP 250 event in Spain.

Murray pulled off a difficult forehand volley on the stretch at 2-4, 30/40 to avoid going a double break down in the first set of his first-round clash against the Spanish sixth seed. It proved a pivotal moment in the pair’s maiden ATP Head2Head meeting, as the Briton held serve for 3-4 before raising his level to claim 10 of the next 13 games and storm to a 7-5, 6-2 victory.

“In the first set he was playing much better than me,” said Murray after his one-hour, 44-minute win. “He had a lot of chances to get the second break of serve and I managed to stay tough in those moments. At the 4-3 game he played a bad game to give me the break back and after that I started to play a little bit better.

“I think he was a bit frustrated, and then in the second set his level dropped a little bit, but the end of the first set was very important because he was playing very well and it was a difficult first set.”

The win improved Murray’s record for the 2022 season to 24-16. The 35-year-old, who has reached finals in Sydney and Stuttgart this year, is chasing his first tour-level title since he triumphed in Antwerp in 2019. Yet Murray remains as eager as ever as he looks to add to his 46 tour-level titles.

“Obviously I still enjoy it,” said Murray. “It’s not easy, the young guys are moving up extremely well, and they’re all hitting the ball harder and harder. Sometimes it is difficult to keep up, but I still enjoy it.

“We had a fantastic crowd today, a really nice atmosphere for the first round of a tournament… I really enjoy playing in new places, I’ve never been here before and it’s a beautiful place, so I’m happy to be here.”

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Davidovich Fokina had come out firing in front of his home fans as he dominated the early exchanges against Murray. His heavy groundstrokes had the Briton scrambling in defence as the Spaniard opened a 4-2 lead.

Then came Murray’s crucial intervention, as he moved to his right to intercept Davidovich Fokina’s powerfully driven backhand pass and deny the Spaniard a double-break lead. Murray’s escape appeared to invigorate him, and the Briton’s dialled-in returning helped him convert five from nine break points from that point on as he charged to an impressive victory.

The former World No. 1, who is competing as a wild card at the ATP 250 event in north-west Spain, will take on Pedro Cachin or qualifier Alexey Vatutin in the second round.

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