In the very last journey of a season filled with both heartening, significant progress and understandable frustration alike, Andy Murray rose to produce perhaps his very best result of the year, defeating Jannik Sinner, 7-6 (4), 6-3, in the second round of the Stockholm Open to reach his second quarter-final of the season.
Murray’s victory over Sinner, the top seed in Sweden and world number 10, is his second top 10 win of the season after beating Hubert Hurkacz two weeks ago. Sinner, one of the best young players on the tour, has also been one of the in-form players in the indoor season, winning his third and fourth titles of the year in recent weeks. The 20-year-old is the first alternate at the ATP Finals next week.
“If I want to move back up the rankings and have good runs at the tournaments again, I need to win these matches,” said Murray during his on-court interview. “I’ve played a lot of guys ranked between 3, 4 in the world to 15, 16. I have won a couple of them but I’ve lost quite a few. It’s good to start to turn those matches around. Now I’m in the quarters, so I want to have a deep run here.”
The rise of Sinner has been defined by his clean, destructive shotmaking and sweet timing that thrives in indoor conditions. Egter, Murray matched his intensity from the beginning, frustrating him with his fast-improving movement and serving at a high level on the most important points.
Throughout the first set Murray struggled to adequately pressure Sinner’s second serve despite the Italian first serving well under 40% for much of it, but in the tiebreak he rose to the occasion and imposed himself on return. He won consecutive return points early on and then at 4-4, he slipped in a second serve ace. Sinner, under pressure, double faulted on the following point and Murray soon took the set.
As Murray maintained his level and intensity, Sinner’s level dipped in the second set and he could not catch up. Murray took a vital break of serve at 2-1 and never relinquished it, maintaining control by making Sinner uncomfortable with drop shots, low slices and smart angles while also attacking his forehand when opportunities arose. With that quality and drive, he secured himself an excellent win.
Murray will now seek to reach his first tour semi-final in two years and he has a decent opportunity against Tommy Paul, a talented American ranked 52nd.
Paul beat Taylor Fritz, the fifth seed, earlier on Wednesday.
Dan Evans, the fourth seed in Stockholm, broke a run of three consecutive losses by beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6 (5), 6-2 to reach the quarter-final. Evans will next play the in-form Frances Tiafoe, the eighth seed.