Andy Murray fought hard for victory over Roman Safiullin in the opening round of the Swiss Indoors Basel tournament, booking his place in the round of 16 after changing tactics to counter the Russian’s booming serve.
The Scotsman, who is looking for the points in the standings he needs to get a top 32 seed for the Australian Open in the new year, lost the first set but came in with a 6-7 (5-7 ), 6-3, 6-4 victory.
Murray, whose only pre-tournament appearance came as a teenager in 2005, dug deep for over two hours and 38 minutes, making his step into the second set before finishing with a flourish to win five straight games at the end of the season. match .
Safiullin wasted no time in making his presence felt, starting the match with an initial flurry of three consecutive aces.
Murray forfeited the first break in his second serve game, but caught one on the first try as the pair stayed in step for most of the first set.
It took a tie-break to separate them, with the Russian scoring 7-5 after a close battle.
Things were just as tightly contested early in the second, with Murray working fiercely to keep his serve. He needed six game points to stand up to his first game, then he successfully avoided five break points in his second.
Safiullin looked confident by comparison, but fell victim to a foray from Murray in the sixth game of the set. With the advantage assured, the veteran did not let him go to waste and pleasantly equalized the scores with his tenth ace.
The pendulum returned to the decision maker, with Safiullin taking the lead 4-1, securing his serve three times and taking one from Murray to bring the finish line in sight.
But Murray’s fighting spirit shone when he landed a streak of three straight wins to even the scores, including his crucial break in the seventh. He also claimed the next two, amassing another break before closing with a dominant serve game.
“It was serving great and every opportunity was hitting the ball great from the back of the field,” Murray said.
“As the game progressed, I started dictating a few more points and served better. I changed the way I was coming back a bit and when I did I was able to create a few more opportunities and frustrate him a little. “
Elsewhere at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, Dan Evans beat Germany’s Oscar Otte 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) in the round of 32 while British No.1 Cameron Norrie landed a 3-6, 6-2, 7 – 6 (7-1) victory over Pedro Cachin.
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The article Andy Murray battles Roman Safiullin as the change of tactics helps him counter the “huge” Russian serve first appeared on Tennis365.com.