British tennis icon Andy Murray is looking forward to a first clash with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic after he sensationally defeated Denis Shapovalov in three sets at the Madrid Open.
In approximately two hours and nine minutes, Murray defeated the Canadian World No. 14 6-1 3-6 6-2 to set up the last-16 match against his old rival Djokovic. The two men have known each other since they competed in their youth and have faced one another 36 times in their professional career – including seven Grand Slam finals.
The 34-year-old marked his return to clay for the first time in two years in Madrid with a straight-sets win against Dominic Thiem in the first round before he held strong to defeat Shapovalov in the all-important third set. Murray was realistic about his chances of topping the 20-time Grand Slam champion.
“He's the world number one and I've got a metal hip!” Murray remarked ahead of his match with Djokovic. “I didn't know I'd get opportunities to play matches like this again. In theory I shouldn't have a chance in the match.
“But I've worked my hardest, put myself in a great position and it's a fantastic opportunity to play against him again on a big court in a huge tournament.”
Murray has not played Djokovic since the Qatar Open in January 2017, when the Brit was atop the world rankings. The Serbian won in three sets.
The Scot added: “I trained very hard the past four or five weeks and got my game in good shape. My movement has been so much better than where it was at the beginning of the year and it makes a huge difference to my whole game.”
“(Shapovalov) has so much power and I managed to defend lots of points and that won the match for me, so I was really happy with that.”
Murray – currently the World No. 78, decided to go back on his decision to skip the entire clay-court season after being handed a wild card for Madrid. He has been training on the surface for four weeks and it paid dividends as the three-time Grand Slam champion broke Shapovalov’s serve twice to take the opening set in just 36 minutes.
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The British No 3, behind both Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans in the rankings, put pressure on Shapovalov's serve in the fifth game of the second set, but he failed to capitalise on a pair of break points and was broken for the first time as he slipped to 5-2 down. Shapovalov held serve to level the match after one hour and 25 minutes of play.
The deciding set went with serve until the fifth game, before Murray took his first break point of the set to edge ahead 4-2. The 34-year-old held again for 5-2 and went 40-0 ahead on Shapovalov's serve before taking the impressive win on his third match point.
Murray’s win over the Canadian means he will face Djokovic in the last-16 of the Madrid tournament. Djokovic beat Gael Monfils 6-3 6-2 in his second-round match after being he was awarded a bye in the opening round. It was his 18th successive win over Monfils, the most by any player over another in the Open era.
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