Former World No. 1 Andy Murray, who made a comeback in singles at the Cincinnati Masters this August after going through a hip resurfacing surgery, will face an uphill task in his opening round encounter against Matteo Berrettini at the Beijing Open.
While Murray has won a title in doubles since coming back, he is yet to fully adjust to the task of playing singles again. Having said that, the Brit showed tremendous character and fighting spirit in overcoming the American Tennys Sandgren in their most recent encounter at Zhuhai.
Murray appeared to be exhausted after the 3-set contest, but his movement around the court seemed to be alright. It was wonderful to witness the Scot sprinting on the court again, hitting some of his vintage shots past Sandgren.
Meanwhile the 23-year old Berrettini enjoyed some of his biggest success on the tour in his dream run at the US Open this year, finding himself in the semi-final of a Major for the first time.
Apart from his heroics in New York, the young Italian has been in a rich vein of form this year, winning titles in Stuttgart and Budapest. He would look to carry over his form on to the Asian leg of the tour as well.
The upcoming contest between Berrettini and Murray would be their first ever meeting on the tour and it promises to be a mouth-watering tussle.
Even though Murray will want to focus on one match at a time, the Scot can draw huge inspiration from his title win at Beijing in 2016 as he seeks a resurgence in the upcoming months.
Murray is nowhere close to the level he once had, but would carry a certain aura when he steps out on the court to face Berrettini. The young Italian would be fully aware of what even a dodgy Murray can bring to the table.
Having faced Rafael Nadal in the US Open semi-finals and Roger Federer at Wimbledon this year, the 23-year-old now has vital experience of playing against the elite. That would definitely come handy as he prepares himself to meet the fallen superstar of tennis.
Berrettini, who employed several cheeky drop shots against Nadal at New York, could use them as an effective weapon against a circumspect Murray too. He would also look to unleash his power game in order to unsettle the former World No. 1.
Murray will face his biggest test against the upbeat Berrettini since his return to singles play. Can the Scot hold firm in a match that can very well turn out to be a physically demanding contest, or will Berrettini be too hot for Murray to handle?
An intriguing Round of 32 contest is on the cards at the China Open in Beijing.
Prediction: Matteo Berrettini to win in three sets.Published 30 Sep 2019, 23:23 IST