Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray won a stunning victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday, winning 7-6, 6-3.
In an unexpected twist to the early grasscourt tournament, the top seed was knocked out in straight sets, following a blistering performance from Murray.
The Greek made a dominant start to the event, beating Dominic Striker in the round of 16, 6-3, 6-4. However, he became unstuck against Murray’s impressive grasscourt game in the quarter-finals, reminiscent of the Scot’s Wimbledon runs of 2013 and 2016.
Murray’s Stuttgart match also represents a return to form, last beating a top 10 player – Jannik Sinner – in the round of 16 at the 2021 Stockholm Masters.
With his confirmation to play at Queen’s, Murray appears to be excelling in his grasscourt preparation, boosting his chances of a decent Wimbledon run later in June.
In 2021, the pair first met at the US Open first-round. Murray comfortably won the first and third sets. But during the final two, Murray seemed to be sapped of energy, taking power away from his usually formidable return game.
This allowed Tsitsipas to become more aggressive in rallies and move Murray around the court. Tsitsipas finally won the match, 2-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
However, there were moments when Tsitsipas seemed genuinely outfoxed by Murray, especially when he took an early return position or his speed up to the net.
Murray vs Tsitsipas, 2021 US Open, First Round
At Stuttgart, these pieces of Murray’s game remained strong throughout the match, helping him seal the victory. He repeatedly took shots far inside the court, hitting groundstrokes half a foot within the baseline.
Perhaps due to his relative lack of grasscourt experience compared to Murray, Tsitsipas struggled with the fast, low balls, enabling Murray to creep forward and hit with even more power, especially to the Greek’s backhand.
Court conditions sometimes made it tricky for Tsitsipas to put balls back in play after Murray’s flat serves to the body or backhand, fumbling the ball into the net. Supplemented with exquisite hands and touch, Murray would wait for an error or for a shorter ball to volley away out of his opponent’s reach.
Murry vs Tsitsipas, 2022 Stuttgart Open, Quarte Finals
For a player with double hip surgeries, Murray was moving exceptionally well. In contrast to the US Open, where Tsitsipas pulled Murray around, the Scot played an expert defence game this time, throwing up higher topspin balls and signature lobs to stay in the rally.
Tsitsipas used his backhand slice to elicit a weak backhand from Murray and finish the point with a quick forehand down the line. However, in general, Murray injected pace into the rallies, making it difficult for his opponent to construct effective points.
Having progressed into the semi-finals, Murray will need his great return game to counter the fast-paced serve of Kyrgios. The combination of Murray’s reliable shots from the baseline and hand skills at the net will be an exciting force against Kyrgios’s riskier, more powerful game.
Whatever the result of his next match, Murray has been able to get his grasscourt season off to a remarkable start.
Will Murray win against Kyrgios’s power? Can he continue his level into Queen’s? And how much can his recent form translate into a solid Wimbledon performance? Leave your comments below.