Daniil Medvedev goes a step too far for the wonderful Andy Murray in the Qatar Open final

The finalists with their trophies – Andy Murray finally paused as Daniil Medvedev lifted the Qatar Open trophy

When Andy Murray’s supply of unlikely comebacks finally dried up, he might have left the Khalifa Tennis Complex thinking, “Eventually, but no Qatar.”

After a terrific week in Doha, during which Murray fought back from match point in two of his four wins, he finally faced an opponent who refused to blink: 2021 US Open champion Daniil Medvedev.

The result was a 6-4, 6-4 loss, meaning Murray has now lost his last three ATP Finals. This will frustrate him as he has identified the pursuit of 50 ATP titles (he currently has 46) as one of his late career goals.

Still, Murray can be proud of a tournament that has lifted him nearly 20 places in the world rankings and reaffirmed his value to world football. Some critics have complained about the number of wildcards he’s received since hip surgery in 2019, but the fact remains his nine games this season have produced more dramatic cliff faces than any other.

Medvedev – who also won last week’s indoor event in Rotterdam – has always been a tough opponent and has now won all six sets he has played against Murray since their first clash in 2019.

With a streak of eight straight wins, Medvedev is an uncomfortable opponent because he reflects many of Murray’s greatest strengths. He’s tall and lean with a rock solid backhand and an economical playing style that allows for few unforced errors.

Tactically, too, Medvedev is as smart as it gets. He cleverly chose to hold serve early in the game and was rewarded with a cheap early break as Murray’s 35-year-old body gradually warmed up to operating temperature.

From there, the pair fell into a pounding rhythm of drawn-out baseline rallies in which it was all but impossible to coax Medvedev into a miss. At best, it is as accurate as an atomic clock.

As if his metronomic groundstrokes weren’t challenging enough, Medvedev made brilliant use of the drop shot and finished the match with a wonderfully accurate lob – another instance where Murray saw one of his best shots used against himself.

Andy Murray in action during the final - Andy Murray finally paused as Daniil Medvedev lifted the Qatar Open trophy - Hussein Sayed/AP

Andy Murray in action during the final – Andy Murray finally paused as Daniil Medvedev lifted the Qatar Open trophy – Hussein Sayed/AP

That shot fell on Medvedev’s second match point, and he afterwards admitted he feared another Lazarus action from Murray.

“Today when I had a match point I was like, ‘Oh my god, I have a match point against Andy in Doha and that’s not a good sign,'” Medvedev joked during his presentation speech. “But I have to have a match point if I want to win. I knew it wasn’t over with you until the last point.”

As for Murray, by his own estimation he was optimistic. “It’s been an incredible week,” he said. “It didn’t turn out the way I wanted, but I’ve had some great matches here and made great memories.

“It was fantastic to be back here in a final,” added Murray, who has now won Doha twice and finished second three times. “I faced an incredible player today. Daniil is one of my favorite players and one of the best players on the tour. It’s great for me to have the opportunity again to play someone of his level in a final.

“There are definitely things I can work on, but I’m proud of my week and the work that I and my team have put in to get me back to this stage.”

Murray is expected to continue his trip to the Middle East in Dubai next week, where he will face a tough first-round draw against fifth-seeded Hubert Hurkacz. But that’s far from certain. He suggested on Saturday that he needed to speak to his team about the wisdom of going straight back into battle. As he told reporters after the game, he doesn’t want to just keep playing until another injury develops.

Later, in Rio, British No. 1 Cameron Norrie battled Spain’s Bernabe Zapata Miralles through a two and a half hour semi-final. Norrie – who also reached the final in Buenos Aires last week – secured his victory by a narrow 6-2, 3-6, 7-6.

The win meant that for the first time in 50 years, two Britons took part in different ATP Finals on the same weekend. For the only other cases, you have to go back to 1973 — and the duo of Roger Taylor and Mark Cox. Indeed, Taylor and Cox doubled twice that summer, with all relevant finals taking place on grass pitches in the UK or Ireland.

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