Murray beats Daniel to set up clash with Bautista-Agut

Andy Murray celebrates after his win over Taro Daniel. Photos: Salim Matramkot/The Peninsula

Doha: Former champion Andy Murray got off to a winning start at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open yesterday when he overtook Taro Daniel to take sweet revenge for his loss last month in Melbourne.

Daniel knocked out Murray at the Australian Open 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, but the two-time Qatar Open champion was too good for the Japanese world No. 110 in their ‘rematch’ so that he was making a winning return to the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex.

A wild card entrant, Murray, 34, produced an impressive performance to oust Daniel with a 6-2, 6-2 win to set up a blockbuster second-round clash against former Spanish champion Roberto Bautista-Agut.

Murray, a four-time Qatar ExxonMobil Open runner-up, hit 11 winners and beat Daniel twice to advance to the first set.

Daniel broke in the first game of the second set to slow Murray’s charge, but the former ‘Big Four’ member earned an immediate break with his trademark backhand on his way to seal victory in an hour and 20 minutes .

Murray was happy to make a successful return to Doha.

“Obviously it’s great to be back and nice to start with a win. I haven’t played here for a few years. It’s changed a lot since I was last here, but I’ve always played well here. I love the conditions. It’s an upcoming place, everyone is involved in the tour. They make it so easy for all the players, we’re really taken care of. I’m delighted to be back,” said the three-time Grand Slam champion after his victory.

Murray’s last title win in Doha was in 2009 when he successfully defended his title against Andy Roddick.

Absent from action on several occasions from 2017 to 2020 due to injuries, the 6’3″ former world No. 1 is here to make things difficult for his opponents.

“The conditions here are good for my game. So, you know, if I can play at a good level, the courts will suit me here and I will make it difficult for everyone I play against,” he said. declared.

“He (Daniel) played very well in Australia. He had a very good run there. So I tried to be the one who dictated from the first point, and I thought I did that well. It was one of the best games I’ve played in the last few months,” Murray said during the on-court interview last night.

His next opponent, Bautista-Agut won the Qatar title in 2019 and reached the final of last year’s event in which he was beaten by Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili.
“He [Bautista-Agut] also played well here in the past. He won big victories. I think he beat (Novak) Djokovic one year and lost to Basilashvili. He obviously also likes the conditions here. He’s one of the best competitors on the tour and he’s been at the top of the game for a very long time. We’ve played a few times in the past, usually quite long, long games, long rallies. So it will be physical for me,” he said.

Earlier, Montepellier champion and seventh seed Alexander Bublik beat Slovakian qualifier Jozef Kovalik 6-2, 6-4 with a powerful performance.

The world No. 31 Kazakh hit 25 winners including seven aces, breaking his opponent four times to reach the second round in Doha for a third consecutive year. He now faces Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech, who beat Jiri Vesely 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4.

Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina also got off to a good start with an easy 6-1, 6-3 win over Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri.

Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti was forced to withdraw from his Round of 16 due to illness and was replaced by Portugal’s Joao Sousa for the match against Elias Ymer.

Sousa had lost to Italian Thomas Fabiano in the Doha qualifiers. However, Sousa failed to use the lifeline despite putting up a resilient attack against the young Swede as the 25-year-old advanced after a 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory to book a fixture against the title holder. Basilashvili.

ATP World Tour Qatar ExxonMobil Open Results

Men’s singles: Round of 16
Alexander Bublik (7), Kazakhstan, def. Jozef Kovalik, Slovakia, 6-2, 6-4.
Elias Ymer, Sweden, def. Joao Sousa, Portugal, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Arthur Rinderknech, France, def. Jiri Vesely, Czech Republic, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4.
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Spain, def. Malek Jaziri, Tunisia, 6-1, 6-3.
Marton Fucsovics, Hungary, def. Lloyd Harris (8), South Africa, 6-4, 7-6 (4).
Andy Murray, Great Britain, def. Taro Daniel, Japan, 6-2, 6-2.

Order of Play – Day 5
Round of 16 singles
central courtyard
Starts at 2:30 p.m.

(1) Denis Shapovalov (CAN) against Alex Molcan (CRO)
Followed by
Botic van de Zandschulp (NED) against (4) WC Marin Cilic (CRO)
Not before 6 p.m.
(WC) Andy Murray (GBR) v (2) Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)
Followed by
(6) Karen Khachanov (RUS) against David Goffin (BEL) or Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN)

Grandstand 1
Starts at 2:30 p.m.
Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) against (7) Alexander Bublik (KAZ)
(3) Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) v (LL) Elias Ymer (SWE)
Followed by – After adequate rest
Doubles – Quarter-finals
Sander Gille/Joran Vliegen (BEL) against Rohan Bopanna (IND)/Denis Shapovalov (CAN)
Followed by – After adequate rest
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO)/Alejandro Davidovitch Fokina (ESP) vs Wesley Koolhof (NED)/Neal Skupski (GBR)

Grandstand 2
Starts at 2:30 p.m.
Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) against Marton Fucsovics (HUN)
Followed by
(5) Daniel Evans (GBR) against Alejandro Davidovitch Fokina (ESP)
Tracked By – Time & Court TBA

Doubles – Quarter-finals
Andrey Golubev (KAZ)/Fabrice Martin (FRA) vs. Alexander Bublik (KAZ)/Marton Fucsovics (HUN)
Not before 6:00 p.m. – After adequate rest
Nikola Mektic/Mate Pavic (CRO) vs. Mackenzie McDonald (USA)/Botic van de Zandschulp (NED)


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