After Angelique Kerber lost her opening round match on Sunday, Andy Murray will be hoping that he doesn’t suffer the same fate as his fellow No. 1 counterpart on the women’s tour did. His opening round opponent is Andrey Kuznetsov, a once top 40 player but currently ranked outside the top 70.
Murray needs a good run to kick start his year here, especially as defending as many of his final points as possible will help him in his goal to maintain the No.1 ranking. He hasn’t looked like a contender on clay this year, going 4-4 with multiple bad losses. It’s expected that best of 5 would help him more and that was certainly the case in the early rounds last year where Radek Stepanek and Mathias Bourgue went 2-0 and 2-1 up respectively. Murray was philosophical on his struggles of this year. “I need to enjoy my struggle a little bit just now and that will help me get through it quicker, I believe. The more frustrated you get, it doesn’t help either. I’ll try and get through it as quickly as I can.” he said.
Kuznetsov is a competent player on the clay but has rarely showed signs of troubling the top players on any surface. After victory over Albert Ramos in Geneva earlier this month, he is now 4-29 against the top 20. Even more so at slam level where he was on a 16 set losing streak against that group before losing in 5 to Kei Nishikori in Melbourne this year.
Murray does look vulnerable and there is a legitimate chance he could go out early. However the safety net of best of 5 may mean that he isn’t in danger until a potential round 3 with Del Potro at the earliest.
Prediction: Andy Murray in straight sets