Andy Murray earned his first Top 10 victory in more than three years at the Western & Southern Open on Monday, beating World No. 7 Alexander Zverev 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.
The two-time champion (2008, ’11) was on the brink of defeat when Zverev served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, before rallying to win three straight games and a place in the third round. Murray finished the match with back-to-back winners, firing a backhand return up the line to clinch victory after two hours and 31 minutes.
Since his last Top 10 victory against Kei Nishikori at Roland Garros in 2017, Murray has undergone two right hip surgeries and had contested just two matches against Top 10 opposition prior to this victory. Murray’s win against Zverev is his biggest win in terms of the FedEx ATP Rankings since his triumph against Novak Djokovic in the 2016 Nitto ATP Finals championship match.
Zverev was aiming to claim his first victory at the ATP Masters 1000 event in his sixth main draw appearance. The German, who reached the Australian Open semi-finals earlier this year, will enter the US Open with a 6-6 record this season.
Murray gained the only break of the first set in the fourth game, covering the court with impressive movement to force Zverev into taking risks. Serving for the set at 5-3, Murray attacked Zverev’s forehand and took a one-set lead when Zverev committed his 16th unforced error of the match.
After failing to convert three break points at 3-2, Zverev earned his first break of the match two games later with a dipping crosscourt forehand return. The fifth seed levelled the match in the following game with a confident service hold.
Murray found his range on his return at 2-1 in the decider, breaking with a crosscourt backhand return winner. But Zverev played with depth and consistency from the baseline to get back into the match and capitalised on a series of forehand errors from Murray to serve for the match at 5-4. Back-to-back double faults gifted Murray a route back into the match and the Brit finished the contest two games later, earning his fourth service break with a backhand return winner.
The 46-time tour-level titlist will meet Milos Raonic for a spot in the quarter-finals. Raonic landed 23 aces to move past Daniel Evans 6-3, 7-5.
Raonic, who owns a 9-4 record in 2020, will be aiming to reach his third quarter-final of the year when he faces Murray. The 29-year-old advanced to the Australian Open quarter-finals in January and reached the semi-finals at the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com in February.
Murray and Raonic will be contesting their 13th ATP Head2Head contest (Murray leads 9-3). Murray has won each of their eight most recent clashes, including the 2016 Wimbledon final.