Aix-En-Provence: Andy Murray eases past Gael Monfils

Andy Murray lost five games against Gael Monfils in the Challenger first round

by Jovica Ilic
Aix-En-Provence: Andy Murray eases past Gael Monfils

Strong Aix-En-Provence Challenger is a perfect place for those with a short Madrid Masters campaign. All eight seeds are ranked inside the top-60, with a bye for the top four, as in the ATP 250 events. Andy Murray took a wild card and faced his old rival Gael Monfils in the first round.

In one of the most high-profile first-round Challenger encounters, Murray scored a 6-3, 6-2 victory in an hour and 22 minutes for a place in the second round. Andy and Gael battled in the junior Roland Garros second round in 2003, and they are still opponents two decades later!

Gael is yet to find his form following an extended break, struggling to impose his strokes on the return and getting broken too many times to end his campaign in the first round. Murray dominated with his first serve and kept the second safe to lose serve once from two chances offered to Monfils.

The Frenchman needed more to stay in contention after serving at 49%.

Andy Murray made a winning start at the Aix-En-Provence Challenger.

Andy grabbed half of the return points and turned them into four breaks from eight chances.

The Briton clinched the encounter's opening game after an extended rally and the rival's loose backhand. Gael hit a double fault in the second game to face a break point and denied it to level the score at 1-1 following a backhand down the line winner.

Andy pushed hard on the return again at 2-1 and drew Gael's backhand mistake to secure a break and open a 3-1 advantage. The 5th seed squandered the advantage in the next game after netting a routine forehand that brought Monfils to the positive side.

Instead of building on that, Gael sprayed a double fault in the sixth game to fall 4-2 behind before creating a break chance in the next one with a touchy drop shot winner. Murray denied it with an ace down the T line and held with a winner that sent him 5-2 in front.

Andy served for the set at 5-3 and held at love to wrap it up and gain a boost ahead of the second. Monfils denied two break points in the opening game and held two games later to remain in touch. However, he sprayed a forehand error at 2-2 to experience a break and push Andy closer to the finish line.

The Briton cemented the lead with a powerful serve in game six and forced the Frenchman's mistake in the next one to wrap up another break and open a 5-2 advantage. Andy served for the win in game eight and held at love to beat his old rival and make a winning start at his first clay-court Challenger since Dresden 18 years ago!

Andy Murray Gael Monfils