Andy Murray clinches first title since 2019 at ATP Challenger event in France

By Sports Desk May 07, 2023

Andy Murray claimed his first title since October 2019 with victory at the ATP Challenger event in Aix-en-Provence.

The Scot, playing with a metal hip, has not been in the winners’ circle since triumphing in Antwerp three and a half years ago and, although this is a second-tier tournament, he will take great pride in this confidence-boosting success ahead of the French Open.

Having breezed past lowly ranked French players on his run to the final, the standard was lifted and he came good, beating world number 17 Tommy Paul 2-6 6-1 6-2 to lift the title.

In doing so he ensures his return to the top 50 of the rankings and a first Challenger Tour level win for 18 years.

It looked like it might slip away after a poor start that saw him lose the first four games of the match to hand Paul, an Australian Open semi-finalist earlier this year, the advantage.

The 25-year-old American coasted to the first set, but that was as good as it got as Murray came to the fore.

He turned the tables by winning the first five games of the second set, including two breaks of serve, and soon levelled up.

Murray, eight days before his 36th birthday, broke in the opening game of the decider and did not look back as a second break consolidated his lead, allowing him to seal a memorable title.

The Scot only took a late wild card into the tournament following an early exit from the ATP Tour event in Madrid and will now decide whether to go Rome or rest and prepare for the French Open, which begins on May 22.

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    The pair have now combined for over half of Spain's grand slam titles, and while Lopez feels his nation will have more success in the future, the former world number 12 has concerns whether it will match the levels that Nadal produced. 

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    "In the end, I think Spanish tennis has been in a place that is very difficult to get back to, but I'm sure that apart from Carlitos, there will be other young players who will bring us joy during the next four, five or six years."

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    Britain’s biggest challenge is likely to come on Wednesday when they take on last year’s runners-up Australia, led by in-form world number 12 Alex de Minaur.

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