'Old dog' Andy Murray tops Matteo Berrettini in Miami. Young guns impress

Andy Murray prevailed over Matteo Berrettini after almost three hours

by Jovica Ilic
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'Old dog' Andy Murray tops Matteo Berrettini in Miami. Young guns impress
© Al Bello / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Two-time Miami Masters champion Andy Murray made a winning start at the second Masters 1000 event of the season, ousting Matteo Berrettini 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 48 minutes. It was their sixth duel, and the more experienced player notched his third victory, the second in a row following their epic Australian Open duel from a year ago.

Andy notched his 229th Masters 1000 win, preserving energy and moving over the top in just under three hours on the Stadium court. Murray was happy with his performance, joking and calling himself an old dog. Berrettini played his first ATP match of the season, struggling physically since the second part of the second set and checking his blood pressure.

Andy Murray, Miami 2024© Al Bello / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The Italian left the court when the set finished, returning and giving his best in the decider before the Briton prevailed with an early break. Andy fired nine aces and played well behind the first and second serve, fending off four out of five break chances and keeping the pressure on the other side.

Matteo could not follow the rival's numbers behind the second serve, playing against 11 break points and suffering two breaks in sets two and three to hit the exit door. They stayed neck and neck in the shortest rallies up to four strokes, and Murray built the advantage in the mid-range and most extended ones.

Andy netted a backhand in the first game of the encounter, facing a break point. Matteo cracked a forehand down the line winner, converting it and moving in front. They served well in the next four games, with the Italian leading 3-2.

Berrettini denied two break points in the sixth game and held with a crafty winner at the net to stay in front. Andy wasted a 40-15 lead in the seventh game and faced a break point, saving it and remaining within one break deficit.

Matteo produced a fine hold in game eight for 5-3 and delivered another while serving for the opener in game ten, painting a forehand down the line winner for 6-4 after 50 minutes. Murray dropped four points in his games in the second set, providing five comfortable holds and keeping the pressure on the other side.

The servers barely lost a point in the opening five games, with the Briton leading 3-2.

Juncheng Shang, Australian Open 2024© Phil Walter / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Andy Murray, Martin Damm and Juncheng Shang made winning start in Miami.

Matteo squandered game points in the sixth game and lost serve after Andy's deep return, sending his opponent in front.

Murray extended the gap with a fine hold in game seven and landed a service winner at 5-3, wrapping up the set and forcing a decider after an hour and 41 minutes. The final set lasted almost 70 minutes, with two rivals battling hard in the early and mid stages.

Matteo denied three break chances in the first game and wasted five game points before netting a forehand on the fourth break point, experiencing an early setback. Andy delivered two holds at love, moving 3-1 in front and settling into a fine rhythm.

The Italian struggled behind the initial shot again in the fifth game, saving two break points and remaining within one break deficit.

Zhizhen Zhang, Miami 2024© Megan Briggs / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

The Italian had a massive chance to erase the deficit in game six after creating three break opportunities.

The veteran saved them and clinched a crucial hold that propelled him 4-2 in front. The Briton opened a 5-3 gap with a fine hold in game eight and served for the win at 5-4. Murray painted a backhand down the line winner, holding at 15 and securing a place in the second round.

Almost six years after his professional debut, Martin Damm got a chance to play his first ATP match. The 20-year-old American took down Zhizhen Zhang 7-6, 7-6 in two hours and three minutes, earning his first ATP win on a big stage.

A tall server fired 14 aces and played better behind the first and second serve, defending four our of six break points. Zhang lost serve two times from five chances offered to his rival, losing ground in the pivotal moments and hitting the exit door.

The Chinese grabbed a break in the seventh game of the opener and served for the set at 5-4. Zhang wasted a set point and lost serve, bringing Damm back to the positive side. The young gun saved four break points in the 11th game before earning a set point in the next one.

Zhizhen saved it and arranged a tie break. Martin rattled off five points at 2-2, wrapping up the opener and gaining a boost. The second set was more fluid, and Damm kicked it off with a break, moving closer to the finish line.

Zhang pulled it back in game four, locking the result at 2-2. They served well in the remaining games, introducing another tie break.

Matteo Berrettini, Miami 2024© Al Bello / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The American claimed all five points behind the initial shot and earned two mini-breaks, clinching the breaker 7-3 and sealing the deal.

The 19-year-old Juncheng Shang ousted Miomir Kecmanovic 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 after two hours and 46 minutes, securing his second Masters 1000 win. Miomir delivered four breaks and saved ten out of 13 break chances, leading 4-2 in the decider but ending on the losing side.

They exchanged breaks in the middle of the opening set and reached a tie break, with the Serb leading 4-1. The Chinese turned the tables and claimed it 7-5, moving in front after nearly 70 minutes. They traded breaks at the beginning of the second set, and Miomir secured another at 3-3 before holding with ease two times, winning the set 6-4 and forcing a decider.

The Serb broke in the first game of the final set and backed his lead with three fine holds. Shang broke back at love in game eight, held in the next one and created two match points on the return at 5-4. Kecmanovic saved them, held and introduced a deciding tie break after holding in game 12.

Juncheng led 5-2 before Miomir erased the deficit and locked the result at 5-5. However, Shang stayed focused and seized his third match point at 6-5 to seal the deal and move over the top.

Andy Murray Matteo Berrettini
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