Andy Murray comes through tough Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship opener
World No.4 Andy Murray fought off an illness and a sturdy Michael Berrer to get past his first match in Dubai under warm conditions on Tuesday afternoon.
The Scot survived an up-and-down match, twice squandering breaks in the second and third sets before completing a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Berrer in a little over two hours.
“At the start of the match I didn’t feel great. It was one of those strange sets,” explained Murray. “It was quite a frustrating match because I was up a break twice in the second set, and each time I think gave it straight back. And then the third set again I went up a break and gave the break straight back. So I could have made it a little bit easier for myself if I played a bit better.”
The 24-year-old does not seem to have much luck in Dubai, where he suffered from food poisoning last year, but this time around Murray insists it is not food-related. “I felt like I wanted to vomit, but it wasn’t food. I don’t know if I had drunk too much or overhydrated.
“I don’t feel really, really bad. I was just getting that feeling after long points. Like after I was getting up from the changeover I sort of cut down and wasn’t drinking that much at the changeovers in the second and third sets and I felt much better. Most of the years I’ve come here I’ve never felt that well. I don’t know why, but that’s just been the case.”
Murray had a bad start to the match getting broken in the very first game but the No.3 seed recovered immediately as the set then went on serve until the sixth game. He got the crucial break then to lead 4-2 and it was all he needed to take the first set.
Despite improving his first serve percentage in the second set, Murray could not hold on to a break he made in the fifth game, and Berrer took full advantage of some sloppy shots from the Brit to break in the sixth and tenth games to level the match and force a decider.
The pair struggled to hold serve in the first four games of the final set before Berrer ended the streak holding serve to edge ahead 3-2 with an ace. Murray was pushed to deuce in the following game but some aggressive groundstrokes and clever shot-making helped him hold serve.
The decisive moment came in the ninth game when Murray targetted Berrer’s error-prone backhand and broke for 5-4 when the world No116 sent a forehand long and some solid serving from the Scot sealed the win for him the following game.
Murray said after the match that it’s important ‘not to over-analyse’ his first match back in almost four weeks and believes he will perform better in his next match against Swiss Marco Chiudinelli. “In terms of that tiredness and stuff, like after long points, that often can happen when you’ve not played a match for a while,” he said. “But I’ve worked really, really hard over in Miami, so I’m sure with the matches I’ll start to feel better.”