Murray falls to Sandgren as singles comeback continues

Lee Duckhee of South Korea poses following his tennis match Monday at the Winston-Salem Open. (AP)
Updated 20 August 2019

Murray falls to Sandgren as singles comeback continues

WASHINGTON: Andy Murray on Monday fell in the first round of the ATP Winston-Salem Open, where the three-time Grand Slam champion was giving his surgically repaired hip just its second test in singles.

Britain’s Murray, who feared in January that his hip trouble would end his career, accepted a wild card into this week’s tournament in North Carolina after falling in his singles comeback in Cincinnati last week.

He again showed glimpses of his once-dominant self, but was inconsistent in a 7-6 (10-8), 7-5 loss to 73rd-ranked American Tennys Sandgren in a match lasting 2 hours and 10 minutes.

“Some things were a bit better today I think,” Murray said. “I was hitting the ball a bit cleaner than I did maybe in Cincinnati ... I feel like I moved fairly well to some drop shots, which maybe last week I wasn’t running to.

“So there’s some good things in there but also some stuff I would like to do better.”

Murray did not even reach the court until after 10 p.m., thanks to a lengthy rain delay that pushed back his start time by more than three hours. Sandgren gutted out a tough service hold in an opening game that went to deuce nine times, saving one break point as they went to the first-set decider without a break of serve.

The American needed four set points — and saved one — in taking the tiebreaker. A deflated Murray was quickly down 3-0 with two breaks of serve in the second.

He clawed one back, and broke again when Sandgren coughed up two double faults while serving for the match at 5-4.

But Sandgren broke Murray again in the next game and then took full advantage of his second chance, capping the match with a forehand winner on his first match point.

In other action on a day when rain wreaked havoc on the schedule, South Korean Lee Duck-hee became the first deaf player to win an ATP Tour match, beating Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.

“My message for people who are hearing impaired is to not be discouraged. If you try hard, you can do anything,” said Lee.


Diriyah Tennis Cup serves up top-class fare

Updated 13 December 2019

Diriyah Tennis Cup serves up top-class fare

  • Day one of the three-day tournament saw Fognini, Monfils, Medvedev and Goffin through to the semi-finals

RIYADH: A new chapter was written today in Saudi Arabia’s sporting history as the first international tennis matches took place as part of the epic month of Diriyah Season.

The Diriyah Tennis Cup presented by Saudi Aramco will certainly go down in history as eight of the world’s best tennis stars met in the Diriyah Arena for the first-ever international tournament played in the Kingdom. 

The event also goes down in tennis history as not only the first in Saudi Arabia, but also one of the first to use Hawk-Eye Live technology. Replacing the need for line judges and providing more accuracy, Hawk-Eye Live sends visual and audio cues to the chair umpire and off-court monitors within a tenth of a second of a ball bouncing, to show faults and out of bounds shots without relying on the naked eye.

The first day as part of a three-day tournament saw all eight players in action in the opening matches. First up on court was Italian and world number 12 Fabio Fognini taking on American John Isner world number 19 and holder of the third fastest serve of all time in Men’s Tennis. Although both players will be written into the Kingdom’s history books, it was Fognini who was the record breaker as he delivered the first international serve and match win ever recorded, 7-6 6-4. 

Speaking after his win, Fabio Fognini said: “I won the first game of the competition, it’s nice. It’s something I will remember for sure and the people will remember as it is the first year we play here. I know they want to do something more [grassroots tennis], especially to improve tennis in this country so I’m happy.”

Commenting after the historic match, John Isner also added: “Very unique to be here and be part of this. I never thought I’d be here playing in Saudi Arabia. Very grateful and happy to be here. The ball kids did great tonight, fantastic job.”

Second up on the Diriyah Arena court was Swiss Stan Wawrinka, the world’s number 16, against Frenchman Gael Monfils the world’s number 10. Monfils took the win in straight sets 6-3 6-3. Monfils rallied the crowd by encouraging them to cheer and danced after some of his winning shots.

“So far it’s great. The offering they have here for us to perform is incredible. The court is one of the best…it’s quite nice. The people are very nice. I feel very good.” said Monfils.

Daniil Medvedev of Russia and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany met in the third match of the evening. Medvedev made light work of Struff to take the win 6-3 6-1 and advance to the semi-finals.

Speaking after his win, Medvedev commented: “Was a great match. It’s never easy like this, after the end of the season, holidays and in the middle of pre-season to know how you are playing at this moment – are you strong or not? Today was a great match, beating Jan so easy is a great achievement because he’s a great player so I am really happy. The atmosphere was also really good and warm.”

In the final match of the night, Belgian’s David Goffin rallied with Lucas Pouille of France. Goffin took the final place in tomorrow night’s semi-finals beating Pouille 6-2 6-4.

After the match, Goffin commented: “Super organisation – the stadium is very nice. First time for me playing in Saudi, it’s a great atmosphere. I think for the people tonight it was something to see, professional tennis matches here. I think it was great for us and them as well. It’s a nice court and stadium – it could be a very nice center court in a big tournament.”

Today’s results will see Fognini of Italy meet Monfils of France in semi-final 1 and Medvedev of Russia will take on Goffin of Belgium on Friday 13th December. The remaining four players will still continue to play as part of the Consolation Bracket. The Diriyah Tennis Cup will conclude with the final on Saturday 14th December.