Over the course of his storied career, Andy Murray’s unrelenting determination has always been one of his greatest and most consistent qualities. No challenge has tested it quite as much as his recent struggles with his body, however – so many great players would have been defeated by similar circumstances.
Somehow he is still here, he is still matching the best players in the world and he is still making progress each day. On Monday night, Murray rose to clinch one of his biggest wins in recent years, beating Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3 at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, an ATP 500 tournament. It is his first top 10 victory since August last year and just his second since 2017, when he was ranked number one.
Despite how important the victory is for him, something like this has been coming. After struggling badly with countless injury niggles earlier this year, over the past few months of regular competition Murray has made clear, consistent progress with each match but he has remained frustrated by a series of tight losses against top 20 players.
Murray says that some of his most encouraging progress has come from his movement, which has continually improved now that he is finally competing regularly again: “A lot of my movement is about anticipation and when you’re not playing many matches, like I haven’t been in recent years, you don’t read the play quite as well. Now, I’m starting to see the ball earlier and starting to react a little quicker, which means I will start to chase more balls down.”
Against Hurkacz, the world number 10, Murray attacked his forehand well in periods and found joy in sneaking into the net on big points. Murray took the first set and then held a match point in the tie-break before the momentum shifted as Hurkacz snatched the set and soon led by a break in the final set. While Murray has struggled in important points against top players recently, here he recovered to clinch a significant win and break a run of 10 consecutive losses against top 20 players.
“I was under pressure in different stages of the match and I handled that slightly better again this week,” he said. “I need to be consistent with my mentality match in, match out to really try and build that consistency in my results. Tonight was a good start. I’ll try and keep pushing forward from there.”
Murray will face the 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, who defeated Dan Evans 6-4, 6-3 earlier on Monday, in the second round. Murray’s victory is also positive news for Cameron Norrie, the British No 1, who is in direct competition with Hurkacz for an ATP Finals spot. Norrie will play his opening round in Vienna against Marton Fucsovics on Tuesday afternoon, his first match since winning the BNP Paribas Open.
Meanwhile, Norrie will head the Great Britain team when they compete in the Davis Cup Finals, which begins on 25 November in Innsbruck. He will be joined by Dan Evans, Joe Salisbury, Neal Skupski and an as-yet unnamed fifth player.