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Andy Murray earns landmark win over Denis Shapovalov in Dubai

Andy Murray earns landmark win over Denis Shapovalov in Dubai
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Andy Murray earns his 500th ATP Tour hard-court win by fighting back to defeat Denis Shapovalov in three sets in the first round of the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Andy Murray pulled off yet another of his trademark comebacks to defeat Canada's Denis Shapovalov in a pulsating Dubai Tennis Championships first-round encounter.

The 36-year-old earned just his second triumph of the year with a 4-6 7-6[5] 6-3 beating of the world number 120 in just over two and a half hours, extending his perfect winning sequence in first-round Dubai matches to 8-0 in the process.

Murray's second success over Shapovalov - whom he had beaten at the 2022 Madrid Open after being knocked out of Wimbledon 2021 in the third round by the Canadian - also saw him hit 500 hard-court wins on the ATP Tour, becoming just the fifth man to do so in the Open Era after Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andre Agassi.

"It's not bad! Hard courts have been a great surface for me over the years, 500 is a lot of matches so I'm very proud of that. There's not many players that have done that so great to 500 but not done yet," Murray said during his on-court interview.

"Both of us had one too many matches lately, he missed a large part of last year. He's played well in the past and he's serving unbelievable, you need to get the balance right to reacting and just putting balls in the court."

Murray - winner of the Dubai Tennis Championships in 2017 - had earned his maiden victory of the 2024 season over Alexandre Muller at last week's Qatar Open, before hinting at retirement during a painful loss to Jakub Mensik.

The former world number one appeared to profess to his team that "this game is not for me anymore" and let out a burst of frustration after being broken in the ninth game of the first set on Monday, slamming his racquet onto the court before Shapovalov held for the 1-0 lead.

A pair of double faults from the Canadian allowed Murray back into the contest with a 3-1 second-set advantage, only for the Briton to immediately lose serve again, but more errors from Shapovalov's side gave Murray the edge in the pivotal tie-breaker.

Straight off the bat in the deciding set, another two double faults from Shapovalov gifted Murray a quick break, and the three-time major winner did not give the world number 120 a sniff on serve for the remainder of the match.

Serving to stay in the contest, Shapovalov was powerless to prevent Murray from bringing up a match point with a ferocious backhand winner, and the Canadian subsequently botched a simple strike at the net on the same side to send Murray through.

Asked about his "this game is not for me" comment in Qatar, Murray played down his outburst and reaffirmed his love for the game, adding: "People read a lot into what I say on the court, it's not always rational.

"Everyone asks me about it all the time, I still love competing and still love the game. It gets harder and harder to compete with the young guys. I probably don't have too long left, but I'll do the best I can these last few months."

The 36-year-old will now take on either Gael Monfils or Ugo Humbert for the right to advance to the quarter-finals.

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