May 7, 2023
Andy Murray only gave a little fist pump in his moment in triumph – but you could sense there was far more delight bubbling beneath the surface.
Try telling Murray this was just a minor tournament in a French backwater, when he first had to beat the legendary Gael Monfils, and then finally see off a top twenty star in Tommy Paul to take the title.
Beating the world number seventeen – the spirited and popular American hot-shot – was done in such style that it became a hugely impressive afternoon.
Remember, Murray is ten years Paul’s senior – and the sweltering conditions couldn’t have been easy.
Yet the older man looked far fresher by the end of this gruelling contest.
Andy won by a thoroughly deserved 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 – and his victory has immediate and advantageous repercussions in the rankings.
The Scotsman is a comeback king – and he just doesn’t seem to know when he is beaten. Those famous fighting qualities are starting to pay dividends once more.
Murray rises to 42nd in the ATP rankings – and 39th in the race to Turin. If he keeps up this kind of form, then a seeding at Grand Slams may not be beyond the old warrior.
Andy Murray, seeded once more at Wimbledon 2023 or future tournaments – can you imagine?
This was the super Brit’s first title on clay since 2016, when he took the Italian Open.
With Rome next up, it’s hardly surprising Murray is in buoyant mood.
He said soon after ;landing the title: ‘It’s great to win this Challenger 175 tournament in Aix-en-Provence. It’s a really strong tournament and there were some top players here. Very, very happy to win it.
‘The last year or even eighteen months, it’s been a bit of a struggle with my game. But my team have been working with me and supporting me to try and get it better.
‘We’ll keep going from here and hopefully we can get even better when we keep it going next week.’
The signs are good for Andy Murray. There was some wonderful footwork and a timely leap to put away the smash that helped him take a 4-2 lead in the final set.
There was his equally athletic dash to the net to craft a deft, unreturnable backhand crosscourt winner as he closed in on victory.
And Murray was prepared to go the long route too and wear Tommy Paul down in the long rallies when necessary.
This surprising tournament win gave Murray a couple of interesting new statistics to contemplate. It was his first Challenger title for eighteen years! Yes, 2005 was the last time he tasted similar glory on the way up.
Perhaps more pleasingly, he becomes the only player to have won every type of singles tournament there is.
That list includes Grand Slams, ATP Finals, Masters 1000s, ATP 500s, ATP 250s, Olympics, the Davis Cup, different types of Challengers, Futures and Junior Slams.
We’d dearly love to see Andy Murray win Wimbledon 2023 to take his home Grand Slam for a third time.
But even if he goes deep enough to make the second week at the All England Club, there will be some very special drama on Centre Court in front of that patriotic and passionate British crowd.
Of course, the Americans and Spanish will have their say too, among many others. Wimbledon 2023 will be a party for the entire world!
Will you be at Wimbledon 2023?
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