SHANGHAI (AFP) – Andy Murray’s bid to make the end of season ATP World Tour Finals remains on course as he powered through his Shanghai Masters opener Tuesday, defeating Russia’s Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-1, 7-5.
The 27-year-old Scot is desperate to book his place in next month’s tournament, which features the world’s top eight players, and would need a deep run in Shanghai to help his cause.
The 11th seed in Shanghai, who is currently ninth in the Race for London, took one hour 25 minutes to overcome the 29-year-old qualifier in a game in which he got off to a flying start.
Murray raced to 4-0 ahead without dropping a point in his first two service games in a remorseless show of determination.
Both players traded serves in the first two games of the second set, before Gabashvili took a 4-2 lead after Murray hit a routine return into the net.
Murray, a two time winner in Shanghai, fought back two games later, gaining two break points which were saved as his opponent played with confidence, sensing an upset could be on the cards
The Briton finally drew the scores level to 5-5 after he forced Gabashvili to drag his shot wide as the pair engaged in a tense rally.
Gabashvili’s confidence then evaporated and Murray took the next game without dropping a point, before charging to 40-0 in his opponent’s final service game. He then sealed victory on his second match-point.
Murray made the semi-finals at the China Open last week, losing to a dominant Novak Djokovic after beating US Open champion Marin Cilic convincingly in the quarters.
He is aiming to win his second title in China this year after winning the ATP World Tour 250 Shenzhen Open at the end of last month.
Meanwhile, Fabio Fognini, the 17th ranked player in the world, suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of 553-ranked Wang Chuhan of China, who showed great composure under pressure to seal a 7-6(7/5), 6-4 victory.
The 22-year-old wildcard saved four of the five break points he faced against the Italian 15th seed.
“I wanted to win this match, but I never actually thought I could do it,” said Wang. “I practised with him in Beijing, so I knew a bit about him.”
Elsewhere, 12th seed Ernests Gulbis came up against a serving masterclass from his opponent Mikhail Youzhny, who dropped just 10 points on serve to dump out the Latvian in two sets.
The Russian world number 35 – who had previously not won a match on the ATP Tour in three attempts – converted three of his four break points to win 6-4, 6-1.
Canada’s Vasek Pospisil squandered a 5-2 lead in a second set tie-break as his opponent Santiago Giraldo forced a decider in their match.
But the 44th ranked player fought back ruthlessly to wrap up a 6-2, 6-7(5/7), 6-1 victory.