Murray comeback hits setback

Andy Murray hitting a return against Fabio Fognini during their secound-round match at the Shanghai Masters. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Andy Murray hitting a return against Fabio Fognini during their secound-round match at the Shanghai Masters. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Scot twice broken in games that would have given him second-round win over Fognini

Andy Murray had every reason to be "very disappointed". The Scotsman had served for the second-round match at the Rolex Shanghai Masters twice yesterday and was two points away from what would have been his biggest win since returning to competitive singles tennis after hip surgery in January.

But his comeback was halted by 10th seed Fabio Fognini, who won 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 7-6 (7-2) in a drama-filled 3hr 9min tie that saw tempers flare and a testy exchange near the end of the third set.

Explaining his unhappiness with the Italian at a press conference after the match, Murray, who had complained to chair umpire Fergus Murphy, said his opponent had shouted as he was about to volley.

"(Fognini) was telling me to stop looking at him. Someone shouting in the middle of a point, this is pretty rare," added the 32-year-old.

"He told me to stop complaining, to have a sense of humour, that when you have a volley on top of the net, you know you're not going to miss it. I know I'm not going to miss it, but I wanted to know where the noise, the sound came from.

"It came from him. It's against the rules. It's hindrance. You shouldn't do it.

"But he said I should have a sense of humour about that. Neither of us, I would say in that moment, were in sort of a joking, laughing kind of mood. That was the issue I had."

Murray, a former world No. 1 now ranked 289th, believes there are "a lot of things" he needs to improve on and that he can do better.

"I will go away and I'll work on those things and be in a better position the next time I play against him," he said.

"I served for the match twice and lost after three hours. It's the first time I've served for a match twice and not won. So I'm very disappointed about that. And obviously the way the match finished makes it a bit more frustrating, as well."

While the Scot was left to rue what might have been, Roger Federer made it clear he had learnt his lesson.

Determined to prevent a repeat of his shock Shanghai loss to Albert Ramos-Vinolas in 2015, he beat the Spaniard 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) in 86 minutes at the Qi Zhong Stadium.

When asked how much he thought about the 2015 match ahead of their clash, he replied with a smile: "All the time. I was thinking about it. Watched highlights. Remember how it felt. I had my chances. I won many more points that time than I lost, so I should have actually won that match.

"To play him again in the same circumstances basically I knew could be dangerous, and that's why I'm very pleased with how I was able to control the match out there today."

Under a closed roof and backed by most of the crowd, who roared in approval at each point he won and sighing collectively at each he lost, Federer broke twice to win the first set in clinical fashion. He was hardly challenged on his service games, never facing a break point and was pushed to deuce only once in the second set.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion also won 17 out of 21 net points (81 per cent) and despite trailing 1-4 in the tiebreak, kept his composure to stave off world No. 46 Ramos-Vinolas and seal victory with a volley.

The world No. 3 will face either Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan or Belgian David Goffin next.

While Federer acknowledged that playing in front of a very supportive crowd can be a source of both motivation and pressure, the 38-year-old, a winner here in 2014 and 2017, said: "It can work your mind. But I think with experience I know that they'd rather see me win the match, not play as pretty and as spectacular, but see me in the next round rather than me trying to hit the crazy shots all the time and trying to please them.

"So at the end, I try my best... today again was special playing in front of so many fans of mine, so yes, it can create pressure for sure, no doubt about it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2019, with the headline 'Murray comeback hits setback'. Print Edition | Subscribe