Murray eases through on Dubai return


Originally published on: 05/03/10 16:05

Andy Murray overcame a spirited early challenge from Russian qualifier Igor Kunitsyn to triumph 6-2, 6-3 at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships.

But the Scot’s first match since the Australian Open final wasn’t quite as straightforward as the score line suggests – with the second game of the opening round tie lasting a mammoth 34 points and almost 30 minutes.

When he did manage to finally convert on his ninth break point, the 22-year-old wore down the world No.111 to progress to the second round despite struggling with a few physical issues having not played competitively for three weeks.

“I felt pretty stiff and sore at the end of the match and it took me a few games to warm up,” admitted the world No.4.

“I have not practised that much, or trained that much and there were a lot of long rallies.”

Not least in that second game, and Murray admitted his surprise at the amount of time the pair spent trading groundstrokes on Kunitsyn’s opening serve.

“It did get to the stage when I wondered how long it was and I looked over at the clock and I think we were into 30 minutes of play after just two games,” he said.

“You don’t think that at 1-0 it could make a huge difference to the match, but I think it did.

“It was pretty amazing, it’s the first time that’s happened to me.”

Earlier in the afternoon, defending champ Novak Djokovic also progressed after holding off a late charge from Guillermo Garcia-Lopez to win 6-4 6-4.

The Serb – now the highest seed in Dubai after the late withdrawal of Roger Federer – squandered a 5-0 second set lead against the Spanish world No.47 and twice failed to serve out the match before coming through at the third attempt.

“At 5-0 everything was working well and then suddenly I lost the concentration and made some really bad errors,” said the world No.2, who, in the end, was content to progress in straight sets.

“I came from an indoor event, and I haven’t played outdoors since Australia.  I’m playing against an opponent who has nothing to lose so I had to be very patient, and I was.”

Elsewhere in Dubai, world No.37 Marcos Baghdatis overcame an upset stomach in the first set to clinch a 7-6(3), 6-4 victory over eighth seed Gilles Simon.

The Frenchman fell to his second opening round defeat in as many tournaments after returning from a knee injury. The  world No.18 will drop ranking points next week since he made the semi-final stage of last year’s event.

Two-time finalist Feliciano Lopez was also shocked, losing 7-6, 6-4 to qualifier Stefan Koubek.

The world No.34 finished a runner-up to Roger Federer in 2004 and Andy Roddick in 2008 but fell to defeat in this year’s Dubai event in a match that swung on a remarkable seventh game.

Lopez fired four aces alongside three double faults – the third of which came on a Koubek break point – before the 33-year-old Austrian held out for victory.


Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.