Britain’s Andy Murray defeats Denis Kudla at the San Diego Open after his original opponent Kei Nishikori withdrew with a back injury just 90 minutes before they were scheduled to play; the American was on his way to LA in his car when he found out he was going to play the Scot
Last Updated: 29/09/21 7:58am
Andy Murray cruised through to the second round of the San Diego Open with a
straight sets win over American Denis Kudla after his original opponent Kei Nishikori withdrew with a back injury.
The Scot arrived in San Diego after reaching the quarter-finals at the Moselle Open in Metz last week, his best finish in seven tournaments since his latest comeback in June after enduring lengthy spells away from the game in recent years due to hip surgery and a string of other injuries.
And the 34-year-old continued his good form after being given a wild card entry into the hard-court tournament, by beating the 94th-ranked Kudla 6-3 6-2 in a match lasting just 69 minutes.
Murray admitted the last-minute change of opponent was not easy for Kudla, who was en route to Los Angeles when he found out.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s obviously not that easy, only found out probably about an hour and a half before we went on the court,” he said.
“I practised with Denis a few times. But I don’t think, I don’t think we’ve ever played in a match before.
“It’s not easy for him because he was on his way to LA when he found out, in the car. It’s not like he was playing around here. It’s obviously a great effort for him to come out and come back and play.”
Murray, currently ranked 109th and closing in on the top 100 meaning automatic entry into the Australian Open, will now face a challenging second-round match against Norwegian second seed Casper Ruud, the world No 10.
The former world No 1 had few problems dispensing with the 29-year-old Kudla, who gained entry as a lucky loser.
Murray won 90 per cent of his first serve points and converted three of four break points against Kudla’s serve while not allowing his opponent a single break point over both sets.
“I want to try and win and push my ranking up to get myself a better chance of having a deep run in some of the major tournaments again.”
“It’s great to be on the court, sort of healthy and competing like week after week for the first time since 2017,” Murray said. “It’s been a long time and I’m starting to feel better with each match.
“The rankings are not the number one priority. But I’ve had some tough draws in the last few months. And obviously, your ranking gets high enough and you can start to get seeded and eventually you avoid that. I want to try and win and push my ranking up to get myself a better chance of having a deep run in some of the major tournaments again.”
Murray’s last-16 match will be his first meeting with Ruud, who has been in strong form this year with tournament wins on clay in Geneva, Bastad, Gstaad and Kitzbuhel, with his world ranking rising from 27th in January to his current place in the top 10.
In other first-round matches, Murray’s fellow Brit Cameron Norrie defeated Dominik Koepfer of Germany 6-2 7-5, while there were wins for Diego Schwartzman, Lloyd Harris, Sebastian Korda, and Grigor Dimitrov.