Red-hot Daniil Medvedev of Russia yesterday made his Doha debut a memorable one as he beat two-time champion and crowd favourite Andy Murray of Great Britain in the final of the $1.4mn Qatar ExxonMobil Open.
Medvedev, who landed in Doha after clinching the ATP 500 Rotterdam crown last Sunday, yesterday won 6-4, 6-4 for his 17th career title win. It was his third win over Murray in as many matches and 14th this season.
The 27-year-old from Moscow got richer by $209,445 and picked up 250 points.
Murray won $122,175 and bagged 150 points.
Medvedev, who spent 16 weeks as World No. 1 in 2022, yesterday fired six aces in his impressive win in windy conditions. Murray, the only five-time finalist in Doha, yesterday failed to add to his title wins in 2008 and 2009.
“A very tough match. I think (it) was a little bit more windy today. Both of us were struggling to find the rhythm on the second serve,” Medvedev said. “It was a big fight where both of us were playing badly, then suddenly both of us were playing amazing but I’m happy to win,” he added. “I managed to find this momentum in Rotterdam. The first two matches I played there were tough. I didn’t feel good before the tournament and then starting from quarters against Felix, I started to find my rhythm. I started to play really good, serving better, moving better. You know, even today, it was tough for Andy, too, to put the ball through me many times. And now the question is if (the winning form) has to continue. I’m going to try as long as I can,” he said.
Murray was generous in his praise for Medvedev.
“It was an incredible week. Obviously I didn’t finish how I wanted. I had some amazing matches here, created some great memories and fantastic to be back in a final year again and against an incredible player,” Murray said.
“Daniel is one of my favourite players to watch and one of the best players on the Tour. So yes, great for me to get that opportunity to play against someone of his level and in a final again.
“Definitely some things for me to work on but I’m proud of my week and the work that me and my team have put in to get me back to this stage,” Murray said.
“All the players in this event have done a great job and put on some brilliant matches. I just think because of the way some of my matches finished that social media likes that sort of thing which creates a lot of attraction and attention. But it was an incredible atmosphere this evening. It’s so nice to see this place full,” he added.
A long return from Murray on the first point of the final was followed by two unforced errors from the Briton. A solid ace, a drop shot and an unforced error from Medvedev allowed Murray to go to deuce when the Russian opened up the court with a backhand drive from close to the net. That point gave the Russian advantage which was easily converted into a service break in eight minutes.
Medvedev, the 2021 US Open champion, easily held serve to go to a 2-0 lead. Murray, a three-time Grand Slam champion, found pace on his serves to take game three to reduce the deficit at 1-2 but Medvedev held serve following a deuce battle in game four (3-1). A couple of clumsy unforced errors by Murray allowed Medvedev to break Murray in game five for a 4-1 lead.
The 35-year-old Briton fought back in style to break the Russian in game six and followed it up by holding serve in game seven (4-3). Medvedev saved a breakpoint to take game eight (5-3). A slick dropshot from close to the net helped Murray draw closer to Medvedev (4-5). Medvedev, with two service breaks, closed the first set at 6-4 in 54 minutes.
The champion in Rotterdam last week quickly broke Murray in game one of the second set. A couple of minutes later, the Russian was 2-0 up after a clumsy volley from Murray hit the net. In game three, Murray wasted a breakpoint as Medvedev steamed ahead at 3-1 by holding his serve but Murray broke Medvedev in game six to draw level at 3-all.
Murray produced strong serves to go 4-3 up for the first time in the match. The turning point of the game, however, came when Murray served at 40-0 in game nine. Medvedev reeled off five consecutive points to break the Briton and take a 5-4 lead. Minutes later, an overhead lob handed Medvedev his 17th career title win as the Russian closed out the second set at 6-4.
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