Alex de Minaur has produced another incredible comeback to continue his extraordinary run of dominance over former World No.1 Andy Murray. The Aussie took on the three-time grand slam champ in the first round of the Paris Masters on Monday, and appeared to be heading for an early exit.
Murray recovered from losing the opening set in a tie-break to level the match before taking a 5-2 lead in the third set. But the 36-year-old failed to hold either of his own next two service games as World No.13 de Minaur saved match points to produce another stunning comeback victory.
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Murray's first match point went begging in the 10th game when he sent a return long. The Scot smashed his racquet on the floor in frustration after handing de Minaur a break-point opportunity, which the Aussie took to level at 5-5.
Murray's temper boiled over again during the change of ends at 5-6 when he knocked the drinks bottles and towel off his bench. He then obliterated his racquet once again when de Minaur secured the victory 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 7-5 - making it six wins in a row for the Aussie against Murray.
Four of those wins have come this season, with the previous encounter between the two coming in Beijing where Murray again failed to convert three match points. Remarkably, de Minaur is now the first player in tennis history to beat Murray on clay, grass, outdoor hard and indoor hard courts in one season.
The Aussie had already become the first player to beat Murray five times in succession - a feat that not even all-time greats Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic ever achieved. The latest loss means Murray hasn't won a match at the Paris Masters since winning the event in 2016.
"I'm not really enjoying it just now in terms of how I feel on the court and how I'm playing," Murray said afterwards. "The last five, six months haven't been that enjoyable, so I need to try and find some of that enjoyment back because playing a match like that there's not much positivity there.
"When I play a good point, I'm not really getting behind myself and then in the important moments, that will to win and fight that has always been quite a big, big part of my game. It's not just going to be like one or two weeks of training to get me to where I need to get to, it's going to have to be a lot of work and consistent work to give myself a chance."
Alex de Minaur becomes the first player ever to defeat Andy Murray on clay, grass, outdoor hard, and indoor hard in a single season pic.twitter.com/ptThEqt5mI
— Bastien Fachan (@BastienFachan) October 30, 2023
Interesting that Murray was always the best with the Houdini act... now the younger players are doing it to him.
— Paisano (@Paisano) October 30, 2023
Alex de Minaur shines as fellow Aussies lose at Paris Masters
De Minaur has a likely third round meeting with fourth-seed Jannik Sinner in his sights. However there was no joy for fellow Aussies Alexei Popyrin and Max Purcell, who both lost their opening matches to higher ranked opponents.
World No.39 Popyrin was beaten 7-5 7-6 (8-6) by Chile's Nicolas Jarry (No.20) in a tense two-hour, six-minute tussle. Popyrin went up 2-0 in the second tie-break, but was quickly pegged back to 2-2. The pair went to 6-6 before Jarry broke, then held, to win.
No.43 Purcell went down 6-4 6-4 to Karen Khachanov (No.15). The Russian broke late in the first set and early in the second to stave off the Aussie.
Elsewhere, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina upset 15th-seed Ben Shelton 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 6-3 and 14th-seed Frances Tiafoe was surprised by Alexander Bublick 6-3 6-4. There were also wins for Laslo Djere, Roberto Bautista Agut, Tallon Griekspoor, Roman Safiullin and qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp - who beat Adrian Mannarino 6-4 7-5.
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