Murray beats Evans on Day One of Battle of the Brits Premier League of Tennis
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The Battle of the Brits Premier League of Tennis brought some much-needed cheer to the tennis-watching population, as the popular event bringing together Britain’s elite tennis players made a comeback in the run-up to Christmas.
The highlight of Sunday was the rematch between the current British No. 1 Dan Evans and Andy Murray. From the get-go, it was evident that the three-time Slam champion had been honing his serve. But all eyes would be on his movement, especially against a player like Evans who relies on his ability to move his opponents around.
Certainly, in the early exchanges there looked to be nothing wrong with his movement, as he scrambled around the court, but found himself tested early on by Evans, coming from 0-40 down to hang on to his serve.
Murray had to carry out the same Houdini act to save three break points as he saved himself again, but just could not carry that momentum through to break Evans for the set. But with a final flurry in the tie-break Murray closed out the first set, much to Evans’ frustration.
Murray held on to that momentum as he broke Evans in the first game of the second set on his fifth break point chance. While Evans stayed toe-to-toe with Murray the former World No.1 had to work for his win, taking five match-points in all to just remind everyone of how much of a competitor he is.
In the summer Heather Watson was on top of her pre-season restart game and looked to be blossoming in the Battle of the Brits Team Tennis, but that form had not quite translated when it came to the restart.
Having struggled with an injury, she returned to action in the ITF Dubai event, reaching the quarter-final of the singles and the semi-finals of the doubles, and that match-sharpness stood her in great stead with a comprehensive, straight sets win over Katy Dunne.
There were other notable battles. Beth Grey and Freya Christie have gone the distance in their two previous encounters, and it looked as though Christie might just have enough to get over the line, before Grey mounted a great come-back in the second set and in the match tie-break, coming from 2-5 down to extend her lead over Christie 3-0 in their head-to-head.
Siblings Naomi and Liam Brody had kicked off the day’s play, and it looked like they would both make it a family clean sweep but Broady found herself struggling to make good on her earlier momentum as Alicia Barnett, who had been key to the organisation and running of the Progress Women’s Tour earlier in the year, mounted a spirited fightback to grab the opening win.
Liam Broady did manage to salvage some pride for the family name, in a tight match against Jack Draper, coming out on top in the battle of the lefties.
The final match to finish saw a gutsy performance from Emma Raducanu, whose powerful serving and heavy ground-strokes makes this indoor surface ideal. Up against Eden Silva, initially there were few opportunities for Silva to put her doubles prowess to the fore, as she was effectively pinned to the baseline.
But as she started to work her way forward, she delivered a blow to Raducanu’s hopes of a straight sets win, saving two match points and breaking the 18-year-old and after another brace of breaks, forced a second set tie-break. After trading mini-breaks, Raducanu got the mini-break that counted, and this time made no mistake on her third match point, which proved to be the charm.
There were also wins for Battle of the Brits Team Tennis alumni Anton Matusevich over James Ward, and Jan Choinski over Aidan McHugh.
Play starts tomorrow at 10:00.