Andy Murray (L), Serbia's Novak Djokovic (R) I AFP File
Madrid: A resurgent Andy Murray of Great Britain defeated Denis Shapovalov of Canada 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 to reach the third round at the Madrid Open, an ATP 1000 tournament. This is the first time the 34-year-old Murray, the winner of three Grand Slams who has had major hip surgeries, has won consecutive matches since January in Sydney, where the 46-time tour-level titlist reached the final.
It was a completely transformed Murray, who had won just eight games across three sets at Wimbledon against Shapovalov, as the former world No. 1 went about taking sweet revenge against his higher-rated Canadian opponent.
Following fine wins against two former top-10 players -- Dominic Thiem of Austria in the opening round and Shapovalov in the second round --, Murray will be up against world No.1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia.
Djokovic had few problems in advancing into the Round of 16 on a rain-affected Tuesday with a 6-3, 6-2 win over France's Gael Monfils.
This will be Murray and Djokovic's first meeting since the Doha final in 2017 and at stake is a place in the quarterfinals.
"In theory I should have no chance in the match. He's (Djokovic) obviously No. 1 in the world (and) I'm playing with a metal hip, so I shouldn't have a chance in the match," Murray said in his post-match interview, according to atptour.com. "It's a great opportunity for me to see where my game's at and to play against him again.
"We've had so many great battles over the years in some of the biggest tournaments in the world. We played in the final I think of all four Grand Slams, we played here in the final, and I haven't had that opportunity to play against him for a long time. Didn't know if I ever would get that chance, so I'll enjoy it, I'll have a fantastic attitude in the match, give it my best and see where I'm at."
Murray has shown glimpses of his best form throughout the season, winning eight consecutive first-round matches. But the 34-year-old has struggled to maintain that level.
"I trained very hard the past four or five weeks and got my game in good shape. My movement has been so much better than where it was at the beginning of the year and it makes a huge difference to my whole game," Murray said.
"It allows me to make different decisions on the court. My movement won me that match tonight. I defended so many points. He has so much power and I managed to defend lots of points and that won the match for me, so I was really happy with that."
This will be the 37th ATP meeting between Murray and Djokovic with the head-to-head firmly in favour of the Serb who leads the rivalry 25-11. However, Djokovic had plenty of positive things to say about Murray and his determination in returning from hip surgery.
"He's moving well, playing better and better. It's really fantastic to see, because he's an important player for our game. He's made his mark in the history of our sport by winning multiple Slams and gold medals and (reaching) No. 1 of the world. He's one of the most important names that we have," Djokovic said.
"To have him still compete is great, and to have him even play at (a) high level as the time goes by is impressive, considering the surgery and what he has been through in the past few years. His resilience and fighting spirit is really inspiring," added Djokovic. IANS