World No. 83 Egor Gerasimov defeated the resurgent Andy Murray 7-6(8), 6-1 on Tuesday to reach the second round of the Open Sud de France.
The big-serving Belarusian was the fitter player across both sets, outlasting Murray in a gruelling 71-minute opening set before cruising in the second en route to a one-hour, 44-minute victory.
“I just tried to be focussed on the match and not think about mistakes,” Gerasimov said in his on-court interview. “I just wanted to try my best today because I was playing with a great champion. It was a big experience and I’m happy.”
Murray was contesting his first ATP Tour match since October of last year. The No. 121 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings, the Brit came to Montpellier looking to continue his return to form after undergoing right hip surgery following the 2019 Australian Open. Later that year, Murray won an ATP Tour title at the European Open in Antwerp, which like the Open Sud de France is an indoor hard-court event.
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Making his Montpellier debut with a wild card, Murray ran up against an in-form Gerasimov in the first round. Neither player was able to create distance between them during the tough opening set. Gerasimov was the player with more chances, taking the first lead in the set at 4-3 and then again in the tie-break. But Murray showed flashes of his vintage form as he brought them back level each time, fighting through lengthy exchanges to extend his stay in the match.
Murray held off two set points in the tie-break and earned one of his own with a powerful delivery at 6/6. But he couldn’t maintain that level as Gerasimov later claimed the set on his fourth opportunity.
“I just tried to make good shots, that’s it,” Gerasimov said. “I wasn’t thinking about winning the tie-break or losing the tie-break. I was thinking about the court, about the game.”
As Murray’s familiar grumbles grew in volume, Gerasimov kept his cool and raced through the second set. The Brit seemed to run out of energy as Gerasimov kept him on the run, winning the first five games in a row. Murray saved two match points, but Gerasimov sealed his third with his 12th ace.
Gerasimov advanced to the second round, and will face the winner between fifth seed Jannik Sinner and Aljaz Bedene.
Did You Know?
Murray played his first tournament of the year at an ATP Challenger Tour event in Biella, Italy, earlier this month. The former World No. 1 reached the final.