Tuesday, October 4, 2022

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Andy Murray loses to Alex de Minaur despite advice from former rival Novak Djokovic

Andy Murray was finally back at London’s O2 Arena on Friday night, long after his career had arguably peaked.

Here in late 2016 he beat Novak Djokovic to end the year as No. 1 in what turned out to be a high point.

Many physical struggles later, he returned to the undercard to bid farewell to Roger Federer and was defeated by Alex de Minaur 5-7 6-3 10-7 in the Laver Cup.

The speedy Aussie’s victory put Team World a first point on the board against Team Europe to level it 2-1 ahead of what was unusually a double-header in the Main Event role.

It is the 35-year-old Scot’s first appearance in this half-serious Challenge match, a selection which, given its appeal to the public, looked more meritorious – as it would have done in the past.

Murray has seen pretty much everything in the game but Novak Djokovic has never approached him for advice on substitutions.

Early on he reminded him that he had better shots than De Minaur and to focus on that. That was certainly Murray’s advantage as he was unable to match the Australian, who is among the fastest players on the tour.

The problem for Murray was another court at deadly slow speed and an attempt to penetrate it. After 82 minutes of hard work, he finally drew a double fault to win the opening set.

Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes video footage, a nifty innovation of this event, showed Federer and Rafa Nadal watching in the team room.

The course surface was not smooth, which the Scot could only penetrate with difficulty. When it came to the decisive tie-break, the Aussie just kept the edge, to the delight of his feisty team-mates on the courtside leather sofa.

There may also have been rejoicing among the sold-out crowds, who worried about catching their last train home as another tennis match stretched into the evening.

Through De Minaur, Team World had managed to level the overall record of this competition a year ago when they were beaten 14-1 by the Europeans, who had not lost this game in four previous editions.

Earlier, Casper Ruud had been pushed close by American Jack Sock in a crucial tie-break, more in the team because of his double skills. After that, Stefanos Tsitsipas seemed to accentuate the general rift between the two sides as he conceded just three games to Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman.

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