Medvedev beats Murray to win Qatar title, Alcaraz to face Norrie in Rio final
Daniil Medvedev beat fellow former world No 1 Andy Murray 6-4, 6-4 in the Qatar Open final on Saturday to win his second ATP title in a week.
The 27-year-old, who won in Rotterdam last Sunday, convincingly ended his 35-year-old opponent’s comeback heroics that saw Murray fight four three-set battles and overcome eight match points to reach the final in Doha.
Medvedev broke Murray’s first serve in each set as he remained unbeaten in three encounters between the two. His 17th career title should see him move up one place to seventh in the new world rankings.
Medevedev said both players struggled to find their rhythm in the wind but also complained about new match balls used on the tour,
“Honestly now I can say this now that the tournament is over, and also I won, I think that these balls are not good for hard courts,” said the Russian.
“They changed something this year and I don’t like them. I heard a lot of other players are struggling with shoulders, elbows and wrists.
“Myself I had wrist problems in Australia. Generally I think I was struggling all week to find the perfect rhythm with these balls, but I am happy to win.”
Medvedev fired down five aces but also committed six double faults.
Murray repeatedly shouted at himself and his support team after errors.
Medvedev had seemed to be cruising to victory in the second set until he was serving at 3-2 up with two game points. Murray fought back and produced a brilliant backhand winner to surge back into the clash at 3-3.
At 4-4, Murray was leading 40-0 in a bid to produce another shock, but the Scot let Medvedev get back into the game for the key break that decided the title.
“Daniil is one of my favourite players to watch and one of the best on the tour,” said Murray, who acknowledged he had been through an “amazing week”.
Murray is expected to rise from 70th to 52 in the world rankings. But he said that after his gruelling week he would speak with his team before deciding whether to compete in the Dubai tournament this week.
Murray saved three match points in his first-round game and five against Czech challenger Jiri Lehecka in his semi-final.
He spent more than 12 hours on court during his week in Doha and conscious of his 2019 hip replacement surgery and will see what toll that has taken.
“All were pretty tough matches physically so at my age and with the conditions I do have to be mindful of those things,” he said.
“Definitely there are some things to work on but I am proud of my week and the work that me and my team have put in to get me back to this stage.”
Medvedev said he would fly to Dubai on Sunday to prepare for an event boosted by his second straight title but wary of the fact that he could meet world number one Novak Djokovic in the semi-final.
“It is all about confidence and as it can come really fast it can go away really fast with one loss. I feel really great right now but next week is a new challenge.”
Alcaraz to face Norrie in Rio
Top-seeded defending champion Carlos Alcaraz fended off hard-hitting Nicolas Jarry 6-7 (2/7), 7-5, 6-0 on Saturday to reach the final of the ATP Rio Open.
Alcaraz lined up a title rematch with second-seeded Briton Cameron Norrie, who out-lasted Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7/3).
It will be the second meeting between Alcaraz and Norrie in as many tournaments, after the Spaniard’s narrow victory in the Buenos Aires final last Sunday.
“It’s going to be a very tough match, Cameron is at a great level, he has already shown it in previous matches,” Alcaraz said in an on-court television interview.
Alcaraz’s Argentina triumph cemented his return from a four-month injury layoff. The 19-year old was sidelined late in 2022 with a torn abdominal muscle and he withdrew from the Australian Open in January after picking up a leg injury in training.
His fitness was tested against Jarry, a former world number 38 now ranked 139th as he tries to climb back after serving an 11-month doping suspension in 2020.
The Chilean broke Alcaraz in the second game of the contest as his punishing groundstrokes carried him to a 5-3 lead.
Alcaraz, whose US Open triumph last September saw him become the youngest ever world number one, found his astonishing shot-making touch to win 12 straight points, breaking Jarry as he leveled the set at 5-5.
But Jarry dominated the tiebreaker, roaring to a 5-1 lead and polishing it off with a service winner.
The second set was another tense battle. Alcaraz saved four break points in the opening game and they went with serve from there until Alcaraz – who had the trainer on at the last two change overs – broke Jarry to love to pocket the set.
The third was all Alcaraz. He gained his first break for a 2-0 lead with a spectacular running forehand winner and wrapped it up with his third break of the set after two hours and 43 minutes.
Norrie will be playing his third final of the year and seeking a first title after his runner-up finishes in Auckland and Buenos Aires.
After splitting two lopsided sets, he and Zapata Miralles traded breaks midway through a tense third.
Norrie fought off a break point at 5-5 as they went to the tiebreaker, in which he seized the initiative with a drop shot winner and never trailed.
“It was good from him and I was a little bit impatient,” Norrie said of his second-set struggles. “I tried to finish the points a little bit too early. I was a bit overconfident.”
After grinding two and a half hours in his eighth match in 11 days, Norrie was pleased to come through physically.
“I just found a way, it was really tough,” he said. “He fought hard.”
“Get more sports news, cricket news and football updates, log on to sportslounge.co.in. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter and Subscribe to YouTube Channel.”