British No 1 Cameron Norrie records his 100th tour-level win, 49 of which have come this year; Andy Murray spurns seven match points in defeat, while Dan Evans also suffers an early exit on a busy Monday at the Paris Masters
Tuesday 2 November 2021 08:01, UK
Cameron Norrie boosted his chances of qualifying for the season-ending ATP Finals with a dominant victory over Federico Delbonis in the first round of the Paris Masters, while Andy Murray spurned seven match points in an agonising defeat.
Norrie suffered a painful loss to Felix Auger-Aliassime in Vienna last week having held match points, but began strongly in the French capital, winning nine games in a row in a convincing 6-2 6-1 victory over Argentinian Delbonis.
The British No 1 sits 11th in the race to qualify for the eight-man season-ending tournament in Turin and needs to make up 140 points on Italian Jannik Sinner.
He will need to make the quarter-finals in Paris at the very least this week before a strong showing in Stockholm next week.
"I know the score looked fairly comfortable but there were a lot of tough games in there. I felt I played a pretty complete match and really enjoyed my tennis again. It was far from easy but I was happy with my performance," the 26-year-old told Prime Video.
"It's pretty cool just to be in the race for that and to be playing these matches with a little added pressure and a little added motivation," said Norrie, who hit another career-high ranking of 13th on Monday.
"You're kind of watching what everyone else is doing. I think it's pretty interesting, and it's exactly where I want to be - and the matches I want to be playing."
He will face either American Reilly Opelka or Serbia's Filip Krajinovic in the second round.
Andy Murray's bid to join Norrie in the second round was ended in heart-breaking fashion to lucky loser Dominik Koepfer.
The Scot had been due to face Jenson Brooksby, but the young American withdrew hours before their match.
He took on German world No 58 Koepfer, who earned a reprieve despite having lost 6-3 6-0 in qualifying to Miomir Kecmanovic.
Murray had looked set to rally from the brink of defeat after defying Koepfer when the German served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but he went down 6-4 5-7 7-6 (11-9).
The 34-year-old missed his first two match-point opportunities at 5-4 on the Koepfer serve in the deciding set and in a subsequent tie-break lasting more than 18 minutes, Murray saw five more match-point opportunities go by the wayside before Koepfer seized his first chance at 10-9 to seal a famous win.
Dan Evans also suffered an early exit in Paris after going down to a 2-6 7-5 7-5 defeat to Alexander Bublik.
The British No 2 raced through the opening set but was pegged back in the second as the Kazakh clinched the crucial break to level the match.
Bublik broke Evans again at 4-4 in the third set but failed to convert a match point and Evans seized advantage of his fourth break point to haul back level at 5-5.
But just when it seemed the momentum had shifted back in favour of the Briton, Bublik broke again and made no mistake second time round as he served out to seal victory.