Andy Murray reaches Aix-en-Provence final in bid for 18-year first

Andy Murray reached the final of the Aix-en-Provence Challenger with a 7-5 6-1 win over French lucky loser Harold Mayot. The Brit came to the tournament looking for his first match win on clay this season after going 0-2 across Monte Carlo and Madrid. And he will now have the chance to win his first Challenger title in 18 years when he faces Tommy Paul in the championship match.

Murray faced his fourth French opponent in four matches at the Open du Pays d’Aix. The world No 52 started the week with a high-profile clash against good friend Gael Monfils before defeating Laurent Lokoli and Luca Van Assche en route to the last four.

It was Mayot who managed to reach the semi-final as a lucky loser, upsetting sixth seed Alexander Bublik 6-3 6-1 on Friday. And he gave the three-time Major champion a good fight in the first set to back up his impressive run through the draw, which also saw him defeat second seed Brandon Nakashima.

The first set was neck-and-neck until 4-4, when Murray set up the first two break points of the match. But he was unable to convert either one.

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The fifth seed set up two more break point chances at 6-5 – also serving as set points – and this time he was able to convert the second one to take the opener 7-5. Murray put his foot on the gas going into the second set, as he quickly raced to a 5-0 lead.

He held two match points to complete a bagel in the second set but the world No 241 was able to keep himself alive in the match and saved both to get on the board at 1-5 down. It was Murray’s turn to fend off the break points in the next game as he served for the victory.

Finally on his fifth match point, the three-time Major champion sealed a straight-sets victory to book his spot in Sunday’s final. Murray will now face top seed Tommy Paul, who came through earlier on Saturday with 6-4 6-2 a victory over David Goffin.

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There was a disruption in their match when a lone protestor took to the court at 4-4 in the first set as security tried to remove him before he was willingly escorted off the court. And Murray will now try to get his first win over Paul after losing their only meeting at the 2021 Stockholm Open.

Aix-en-Provence marks Murray’s first Challenger final since 2021 and his first final at any level on a clay court since the 2016 French Open. The former world No 1 has not won a title on the clay since Rome in 2016.

His last Challenger title came 18 years ago in Binghamton, New York. Murray had not played a single Challenger event between 2005 and 2019, when he opted to drop down during his continued comeback from injury.

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