Written by Staff Writer
The world’s No. 1 tennis player, Andy Murray, beat his fellow Briton Aljaz Bedene Saturday evening at the Stockholm Open in a tense and riveting match.
Murray won the three-set match 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, and advances to the quarterfinals for the first time in his Stockholm career.
The Wimbledon champion defeated 16th-seeded Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in the first round, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, while 12th-seeded Bedene knocked out fifth-seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, 7-6 (8-6), 5-7, 6-3.
Bedene, who is an opponent of Murray’s at Wimbledon next week, began the match with the advantage by taking the first set. But his temper flared up on match point, and he was immediately penalized a point for coaching from the stands and ultimately had to serve the rest of the match to get through.
He would have hoped to end Murray’s streak of 72 straight wins on grass, but the Scot remained calm, composed and even though his form slipped, he was able to close the match out.
“It was frustrating because I served well to go two sets up and then obviously went long on that match point. So disappointed, a little bit embarrassed in a way but he (Murray) recovered well, played an unbelievable tiebreak,” Bedene said after the match.
‘No longer nervous’
Bautista Agut said he has been suffering from an injury to his right calf since Wimbledon, when he took out Murray in five sets. He does not know how long he will be out of action.
“I hurt my calf in Wimbledon, so I’m a little bit unlucky, but I hope to recover in time for Canada (in two weeks),” he said.
The top seed was soon engaged in a thrilling and emotional three-setter, with Bedene hitting 14 aces and breaking Murray’s serve four times. But Murray eventually managed to get over the line, holding serve in the second set to take it 7-5 and then taking the third set 7-4, pulling away thanks to a strong showing from his serve.
“I have been playing so well the last few weeks. I love playing. I’m so excited to get through,” Murray said at his post-match press conference.
“I’m definitely feeling less nervous this week than I have in the past. I was slightly off from the start, which is weird for me, but I managed to pick myself up and I tried to get more aggressive toward the end of the first set. I got myself into the match in the second and then played better and better the rest of the way.”
More tough results for Murray
Saturday’s match was the first time the ATP-World Tour tour regular had played his sixth-seeded British compatriot since 2014, when he lost to him in Madrid.
But Murray said he had seen nothing new in Bedene’s game.
“I don’t see too much difference from what I’ve seen in the past. He was moving well today. I played four matches in a row for the first time in my career, so obviously it’s a bit difficult, but he’s quite a good grass player so I know he can really play well on the grass as well. He has never beaten me in four attempts,” Murray said.
Murray next faces Mischa Zverev in the quarterfinals. The German, the younger brother of Germany’s Richard and a former top 10 player, beat Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic 6-3, 6-1.
If Murray wins the quarterfinal, he will have equaled former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s tournament record of 71 consecutive wins.
“Once you’re No. 1 you get used to it. You know it’s not going to change unless you stop winning. I just want to keep winning and try to be as consistent as I can,” he said.
“It (72 straight wins) doesn’t matter for me, as long as I continue to play well.”