Alexander Zverev, the talented German star who is the No. 3 at Indian Wells, had already beaten three of the “Big Four” of tennis in his young career, but the last member of modern tennis that he failed to beat was Mount Rushmore. Andy Murray.
That changed on Tuesday in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open.
An appreciative crowd roared and chanted throughout the match as Murray fought Zverev tooth and nail, but in the end the calm, Zverev gathered enough to put the popular Briton 6-4, 7-6(4) aside.
“He’s the only one of the Big Four that I haven’t beaten yet, I’m glad I did it today,” Zverev told Stadium 1 after the game. “It was a fantastic game, and I thought Andy was extraordinary played well, maybe as well as he has since his surgery. And I hope he continues to play the same way, because tennis has missed him for a long time, and it’s good to have him.” back.”
Zverev was referring to hip surgery Murray had in January 2019. It was unclear if he could return to tennis, but Murray returned in late 2019 and has been back to tennis ever since.
Due to his inactivity and poor results, Murray has fallen to number 121 in the world. So he was invited into this field as a wildcard and he made the most of it by beating Adrian Mannarino and then Carlos Alcaraz in the first two rounds.
On Tuesday, Murray jumped to a 3-0 lead in the third set, but Zverev quickly took over and won the next four games to regain control of the match.
The second set, however, was a classic. The players exchanged breaks to start the match. Later, after Zverev broke Murray to make it 6-5, Murray showed the heart of a champion by breaking back and forcing a tiebreaker in the second set.
Zverev earned the minibreak on the first point of the tiebreak when Murray tried one of his patented drop shots, but it drifted wide. Zverev kept Murray at arm’s length the rest of the way, never dropping a serve.
The last point was a fitting farewell for this game. It ended with both players at the net with a rat-a-tat rally that ended when Murray’s last “tat” drifted inches wide. The crowd roared as if it were inside, but it was clearly outside, and Zverev raised his hands triumphantly.
“I always stayed in the game, even if I had a break in both sets,” Zverev said. “I always knew I had a chance and especially the second set I would say it was an extremely high level for both of us and it could have gone either way but I’m pretty happy it went my way .”
Murray was visible and audible in the match. He would yell to himself after miscues “So bad! So bad!” He continued to roar and fist pump emotionally after good shots, and looked to the sky in frustration after bad shots.
When his last shot went wide, he slammed his racket to the ground. Not as a display of poor sportsmanship, but as a clear indication that it meant a lot to him, and he felt he could have won.
Despite Zverev’s compliments, Murray thought he wasn’t playing great.
“A lot of mistakes were made and it was kind of good stuff, but it was mixed with bad,” said a gruff Murray. “There was no consistency. The positive thing to take out of it is I clearly had opportunities again, so I think that’s positive. I didn’t feel like I was playing a great game and still had chances to win, so that’s positive. Of course I want to win these matches, and I haven’t in the past few months.”
After the match, Murray summed up how he felt with a one-word tweet that was four letters long and began with an F.
Zverev, who never got past the fourth round in Indian Wells, will face Gael Monfilsat on Wednesday at 8 p.m.
Shad Powers is a sports columnist for The Desert Sun. Reach him at [email protected]
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