Alex de Minaur edged past Andy Murray in an extremely close first-round thriller at the China Open in Beijing. The former continues his bid for a spot in the ATP Finals with a 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (8) victory over the former World No. 1.
The World No. 12 took on Murray for the fifth time in his career, boasting a perfect record in his head-to-head with the Brit. The first set went by reasonably comfortably for De Minaur as he broke Murray in his first service game after building up a 40-15 lead. Although his opponent fought back to a deuce, it wasn't enough to hold.
Following this, De Minaur continued to hold his serve and ultimately took the first set 6-3. Murray was visibly frustrated throughout and this anger continued into the second set as De Minaur appeared to feed off of Murray's pace and have an answer to everything .
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Murray comes back in second set before nail-biting decider
Following some errors on De Minaur's backhand, Murray was able to secure a break at 4-2 in the second set. However, this success was short-lived as De Minaur broke back in the next game, leading Murray to receive a code violation for racket abuse after he repeatedly smashed it on the ground in a rage.
The Australian then got a chance for another break at 5-5, but Murray held his serve after making De Minaur run for the ball. In the next game, the Scot found himself two break and set points up. After losing the first one, he was able to convert the second and force the decider as his 24-year-old opponent moved toward the net only for Murray to hit the ball right past him.
However, the 36-year-old would ultimately find himself on the losing side of a very close-knit battle in the final set.
At 2-1 in the decider, the points went to a deuce on De Minaur's service game, leading to a thrilling back-and-forth between the two players. After losing one break point, De Minaur hit the ball into the net to give Murray the advantage. The three-time Grand Slam champion got the ball on the line in the next point, leading De Minaur to hit it out to secure Murray the break.
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They were both then able to hold serve until Murray got match point on De Minaur's service game courtesy of a hooked forehand cross-court pass. However, the Australian fought back to bring it to a deuce and ultimately hold serve.
Murray was then serving for the match but found himself in trouble after De Minaur built up a 40-15 lead. An unforced error from the Brit subsequently led the Australian to break back and level the set at 5-5. They then both held their serve to force a nail-biting tiebreak.
De Minaur soared ahead at the start of the tiebreak, building up a 5-3 lead. However, it was then Murray's turn to fight back as he pushed it to 6-5 and gave himself two more match points. Ultimately though, De Minaur stayed resilient and got himself into the lead with his first match point.
This turned out to be the only one he would need as Murray hit the ball long and De Minaur booked his place in the second round of the ATP 500 event where he will face second seed Daniil Medvedev or World No. 13 Tommy Paul.