Winning the title 18 years after the first is never an easy task, regardless of the level. Andy Murray wrote Challenger history in Aix-En-Provence on Sunday, lifting the trophy 18 seasons after doing that for the first time!
David Ferrer held the record with 16 seasons between his first and last Challenger trophy, and Murray raised the bar even higher to top the charts
. Andy claimed his first couple of Challenger titles in 2005, with the second coming in Binghampton in August.
The young Briton passed 350 rivals on the ATP ranking list that year, leaving Challengers behind for years. He returned to that level in 2019 after injuries and setbacks and claimed the title on Sunday to write history books a week before turning 36.
Aix-En-Provence gathered a strong field and many top-60 players. Andy was the 5th seed, heading to France following an early Madrid Masters loss, winning the trophy and a handful of 175 ATP points. To make things even better, it was Andy’s first clay-court Challenger since Dresden 2005!
Murray ousted four French players and faced a top-20 rival Tommy Paul in the title clash. Andy overcame a slow start and scored a 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory in an hour and 54 minutes. The Briton delivered rock-solid tennis on serve and return to emerge at the top and celebrate a notable win that brought him back inside the top-45.
Murray served at 48% and drew the most from that. He defended his second serve nicely and got broken two times from three chances offered to the American.
Andy Murray conquered his first Challenger title since 2005.
Paul created no break chance after the opening set and could not follow Murray’s pace in his service games to settle for the runner-up prize.
Tommy broke at 15 in the encounter’s first game and grabbed another return game at love at 2-0 for a massive advantage. The American produced another fine hold in game four, taking 16 of the opening 19 points for a perfect start.
Both players served well in the remaining games, and Paul held at 15 in game eight with a service winner for 6-2 in half an hour. Murray raised his level after those two breaks, serving well in set number two and keeping the pressure on the other side.
The veteran defended nicely and drew the rival’s forehand error in the second game to open his first advantage. Andy moved 3-0 up with a service winner and grabbed another return game a few minutes later after Tommy’s loose forehand.
Murray served for the set at 5-1 and landed a service winner to wrap it up and force a decider. The Briton served well again, and the American crumbled under pressure, with nothing working his way. Andy broke at the start of the set and missed two more break points in game three.
Paul saved a break point in game five to remain in touch and served at 2-4. Murray broke again to open a 5-2 advantage and held at 15 in game eight after the rival’s loose backhand to celebrate the title.