September 20-26, 2023

Murray up for the Karatsez challenge as action heats up at the Zhuhai Championships

author :Courtney Walsh
time :2023-09-24 14:04
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Dual-Wimbledon champion Andy Murray is aware of the threat Aslan Karatsev poses in their clash in Zhuhai on Saturday as the Scot seeks to reach his second ATP Tour quarterfinal for the season.

The three-time major champion was beaten 6-3 6-3 by Karatsev, who is a former Australian Open semi-finalist, when they met in an ATP Tour 250 final in Sydney last year.

Murray described the conditions in Sydney as similar to those to Zhuhai in terms of the speed of the courts and said he would need to play with variety to disrupt the 30-year-old rhythm.

“He's one of the best ball strikers on tour and he hits so clean off both sides and takes a lot of risks,” Murray said.

“I think these courts will probably suit him. He likes the faster courts. My job will be to try and use some variety to break up his rhythm a little bit.

“If he is getting a lot of the same balls, he is unbelievably dangerous.”

Fourth seed Sebastian Korda will play his first match in Zhuhai when starting the proceedings on Day 4 against Alexandre Muller. Tomas Martin Etcheverry, the 5th seed, then plays Dalibor Svrcina.

Former Wimbledon semi-finalist Cameron Norrie will feature in the night match against Australian qualifier Marc Polmans, who is looking forward to the challenge against the English star.

“I played him many years ago in junior ITFs but he's improved a lot since the junior days,” he said.

“I'm looking forward to having a crack against him. He is the highest-ranked opponent I've played, so it's going to be a great test. I want to only play against these top opponents.”

In Day 3 action in Zhuhai, 6th seed American Mackenzie McDonald posted his second three-set win in less than 24 hours when overcoming a deficit to defeat Kimmer Coppejans 4-6 6-3 6-2.

A night earlier McDonald defeated China’s rising star Shang Juncheng in a testing three set encounter that left his 18-year-old rival cramping in the latter stages of the match.

“I saw it on the schedule before I played my first round match, so I knew way in the back of my mind that it was a possibility,” he said.

“It was one step at a time type of thing. I did everything I could last night to prepare for today. I slept very well last night, which I am thankful for, because the first couple of nights were not so good.

“I prepared and was ready to go, so that was good.”

Madrid Masters finalist Jan-Lennard Struff defeated Cristian Garin 6-3 1-6 6-4 in his return to the circuit for the first time since injuring himself in a tournament in Halle in June.

The German, who will play Yoshihito Nishioka in a quarter-final on Sunday, said the slick conditions in Zhuhai suited his game.

“The court is pretty quick, I think, which is pretty nice for me. I served pretty well in the first and third sets after the second set, which wasn't that great,” he said.

“Cristian played a very good second set, but I was able to come back and play a good third set, which was very important.”

Nishioka progressed in the first match of Day 3 in Zhuhai when defeated Lloyd Harris 7-6 (4) 7-6 (5) and credited a more relaxed approach to his tennis this week for helping him find his best form.

“I’m more relaxed and am not thinking too much,” he said.

“That mentality maybe helped today in those two tiebreakers. It was a very close match but I found a way to beat the opponent.”

Top seed Karen Khachanov finished off Day Three when too strong for Australian qualifier Alex Bolt.