Murray Continues to Make Strides With Statement Week in Doha

We may be witnessing the second coming of Andy Murray in 2023. I alluded to Murray’s renewed determination and grit as well during the Australian Open, which saw him compete in 3 marathon matches, all of which were played at a much higher level than anything we saw from Murray in 2022. That trend continued this week in Doha, where the Scot edged through 4 gripping contests to reach his first ATP final of the season. He ultimately lost 6-4 6-4 to a very strong Daniil Medvedev, but this week was more about the journey rather than the destination for the 3-time Grand Slam Champion.

In Round 1, Murray faced Lorenzo Sonego. He beat Sonego 4-6 6-1 7-6, saving match points in the process. It was a similar story against Sascha Zverev in Round 2, who Murray beat, again saving match points. His simplest victory was against Alexandre Muller, with a scoreline of 4-6 6-1 6-2, which was followed by Murray’s most impressive win, over Jiri Lehecka. Lehecka is a up and coming star, who made the quarter-finals at the Australian Open this year. Lehecka held 5 matches points, even serving at 40-0 up in the final set, but Murray somehow still found a way to come back and win the match to set up a showdown with the resurgent Daniil Medvedev.

In the end, another slow start cost the Scot, as Medvedev broke early and never looked back, racing to an unassailable 4-1 lead in the first set, fending off a Murray fightback to win 6-4 6-4. Medvedev will rise to 7 in the world rankings having won back-to-back titles on his favoured hard courts. This represents a much-needed return to form for the Russian, who is one of the few who can challenge Novak Djokovic on faster surfaces, when he’s at his best. He had dropped out of the Top 10 after a few poor showings at big events but looks to have found his feet once again.

Murray will climb up 18 spots to 52 in the rankings and is edging ever closer to being seeded at a Grand Slam this year. Although Murray captivated us with his fightbacks from the brink of defeat, the reality is that he will need to be part of some more mundane matches if he wants to mix it with the best again. Murray looked spent by Round 3 of the Australian Open and the same applied to the final in Doha this week. It simply isn’t sustainable to go the distance every match, so Murray will have to rediscover his ruthlessness if this resurgence is to go any further.

However, there is no doubting that Murray’s matches this year have drawn some much-needed attention to the sport and brought some more success for British tennis. Murray reached his first ATP final when Tony Blair was Prime Minister and his other compatriots were the likes of Tim Henman and James Ward. These days, British tennis is in safer hands, with Cameron Norrie leading the way for the most wins on tour this year and Jack Draper rising up the rankings. Long may it continue.