Andy Murray ends six-match losing streak with first victory of the year

Andy Murray - Andy Murray ends six-match losing streak with first victory of the year
Andy Murray who has slipped to 50th in the ATP rankings started in lightning fashion in Qatar - Getty Images/Noushad Thekkayil

Andy Murray finally has a victory in 2024. And after the misery of the past six weeks, this first-round win in Doha must have felt almost as good as one of his Wimbledon titles.

Having ousted world No 73 Alexandre Muller from the Qatar Exxon Mobil Open in straight sets, Murray held up two arms in a performative victory salute. The gesture was not ironic, exactly, but there was a note of self-awareness in it. He knows that, at his best, this is the sort of match he would be putting away without fuss.

“The last few months have been really tough on the court for me,” said Murray in his on-court interview. “I’ve not won many matches and I’ve lost a lot of close ones. It was getting tight at the end there.

“I’m proud that I managed to get through the match, get another win under my belt,” Murray added. “I’m happy for my team who have been working very hard with me to find solutions. Hopefully it’s the start of a better run.”

Despite the comfortable scoreline, Murray’s 6-1, 7-6 victory had its moments of concern. This wasn’t just because of the tight finish, which saw him scrap his way back from a 4-2 deficit in the second-set tie-break. There was also the spectre of a worrying knee issue.

Although Murray’s body seemed to loosen up as the match wore on, his left knee was clearly causing him significant pain during the opening exchanges. In an unusual move for this grittiest of athletes, he called the trainer – and then claimed a medical time-out – at the very first sit-down.

Judging by scraps picked up from the courtside microphones, Murray had undergone a scan on the knee on Monday, and was then diagnosed with a cyst on his meniscus. This might suggest that he has a small tear in the cartilage – something that could potentially become more serious down the track.

The irony was, though, that Murray produced his best tennis when he was feeling physically compromised. Temperamentally, he has always been reluctant to risk errors, but paradoxically he is at his most effective when he abandons his comfort blanket and hits out with freedom. Which is sometimes a side-effect of not wanting to do too much running.

The unspectacular nature of Muller’s game probably helped. The Frenchman is neat, accurate and deft without doing anything to scare the horses. His best asset on the day was a cute drop shot, but he rarely accelerated the ball with a piledriving groundstroke. They say that your ideal opponent is someone who plays like you, only slightly worse, because that way there can be no surprises. And that was how it felt, as Murray always seemed to have more options than his opponent.

To briefly sketch in the unhappy background, Murray’s previous win had come against Yannick Hanfmann in the first round of Basel, which was played on Oct 23. He was eliminated from that event by Tomas Martin Etcheverry in a tough three-setter, before going to Paris for the indoor Masters events and wasting a 5-2 deciding-set lead against Alex De Minaur. That concluded a moderate year in which he improved his ranking by seven places to finish at No 42.

Murray’s worst slump of his career

His 2024 began with another frustrating three-setter against Grigor Dimitrov in Brisbane, and then delivered a horribly flat performance against Etcheverry at the Australian Open – a straight-sets rout at an event where he had played five finals. Things went to bad to worse with a loss to world No 112 Benoit Paire in Montpellier, and then another against No 66 Tomas Machac in Marseille that made it six on the bounce: the worst sequence of his professional career.

“Tennis has taught me lots of really good life lessons,” said Murray in the interview room. “Everyone goes through difficult times at some stage, and it’s not easy to get out. And the only way really is to work hard and try and find a solution, not – I probably do this, but we shouldn’t – get too down on myself.”

Assuming that Murray’s knee recovers from this 1hr 57min workout, his second round will be a very different sort of match against Jakub Mensik, a raw 18-year-old from the Czech Republic with a strong serve and a big game. Mensik beat world No24 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Tuesday to show he is a threat.

Earlier in the day, Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka had returned to the match court in nearby Dubai after a three-week break following her triumph in Melbourne. Things failed to go to plan, however. After taking the first set against Donna Vekic, Sabalenka found herself comprehensively outplayed in a 6-7, 6-3, 6-0 defeat.

Murray back to winning ways in Doha – as it happened

05:28 PM GMT

The elation is palpable

As the interviewer mentioned Murray had won his first match of 2024, the Scot threw his head up to the sky and raised his arms in relief. Tough not to be happy for him after such a rotten run.

05:26 PM GMT

Murray speaks after his win

“The last few months have been really tough. I’m delighted to get through as it got pretty tight at the end there. I’m so happy for my team who have been working with me to get me through this tough moment and hopefully this is the start of a better run.”

05:24 PM GMT

Murray delight

This celebration from Murray tells it all. It’s a mixture of pure relief and satisfaction and certainly not one of a man even contemplating retirement.

05:23 PM GMT


Andy Murray beats Alexandre Muller 6-1, 7-6 (7-5)

Superb from Murray, who comes in behind an excellent return of serve to put away a neat volley at the net. He’s then cursing himself though as he finds nearly the bottom of the net with a poor backhand. Murray counters again though, this time reading the Muller drop-shot to retort with one of his own. Muller then misses a forehand and it’s 5-5. Muller misses again and Murray has match point...


05:18 PM GMT

Murray 6-1 6-6 (2-4) Muller* (*denotes next server)

Murray seizes a mini-break but Muller punches back hard off the back of a wicked second serve. Muller then gets the better of a tough exchange from the back of the court and takes the initiative himself. He makes it a double break with a deft drop-shot and now has Murray right up against it at the change of ends.

05:14 PM GMT

Murray 6-1 6-6 Muller* (*denotes next server)

Murray is showing good fight here. These are tough service games and he’s attacking them with aplomb. Another huge hold in the circumstances and we’re into a tie break.

05:09 PM GMT

Murray* 6-1 5-6 Muller (*denotes next server)

Muller is looking very crisp off the back of his own serve now and has two game points in quick time. He holds and now Murray must do the same to force a tiebreak.

05:07 PM GMT

Murray 6-1 5-5 Muller* (*denotes next server)

Superb love hold from Murray with his back against the wall.

05:03 PM GMT

Murray* 6-1 4-5 Muller (*denotes next server)

This game is vital. Murray looks to up the tempo on the first point and earns himself an easy put-away after good work from the back of the court. Muller takes advantage of an off-balance Murray at the back of the court with a lovely drop-shot – the next point is a carbon copy. He holds.

04:57 PM GMT

Murray 6-1 4-4 Muller* (*denotes next server)

Murray, now just two holds away from his first win of 2024, fights his way to 40-15 with yet more excellent forehands off the back of big first serves. That’s been his bread and butter tonight. Muller, though, sensing he must respond now, does punch back forcing a pair of errors from Murray to get back to deuce. He then shows great touch with a backhand volley and gives himself the chance to break back right away. He takes it and Murray is pegged back right away.

04:49 PM GMT

Murray* 6-1 4-3 Muller (*denotes next server)

Both players trade unforced errors. As we get towards the business end of this set, every one of those feels vital. Murray jumps on a short serve and forces Muller to go long with a forehand but the Frenchman responds with an excellent serve...30-30. Another follows though and Murray has a look at what would be a vital break in this second set – which he takes. Superb stuff.

04:45 PM GMT

Murray 6-1 3-3 Muller* (*denotes next server)

This is a proper contest now. The sort Murray needed to prove he could pull himself out of his form rut. He races to 30-0 Muller punches back with a deft slice backhand drop-shot before Murray nets when going for too much with a backhand. We get the first cry of frustration from the Scot as a result. He responds to his own urges though and holds.

04:39 PM GMT

Murray* 6-1 2-3 Muller (*denotes next server)

Muller holds to love. He’s playing far, far better now than he was in the first set.

04:37 PM GMT

Murray 6-1 2-2 Muller* (*denotes next server)

Murray on the backfoot for the first time in the match at 0-30 on serve. This was always going to get tougher and he must dig deep now but Muller has other ideas as a beautiful backhand winner gives him two break points. He wastes the first with a loose forehand before Murray saves the second with an excellent backhand winner of his own. Murray then mixes it up with a serve-volley but Muller pulls them back to deuce. A wondrous drop shot and an ace then secure a vital hold for Murray.

04:28 PM GMT

Murray* 6-1 1-2 Muller (*denotes next server)

Excellent work from Murray, moving the Frenchman from side to side with a series of heavy groundstrokes. He then charges in behind a good cross-court forehand to put away a volley. Muller responds with some good hitting of his own but can’t convert a game point opportunity and it’s back to deuce. The Frenchman does not miss his second opportunity to hold though.

04:22 PM GMT

Murray 6-1 1-1 Muller* (*denotes next server)

Few more unforced errors creeping into Murray’s game as Muller looks to be hitting his straps a little more. The Scot lets out a loud ‘COME ON’ as Muller nets with backhand volley and then gets the better of relentless rally from the back of the court to give him game point before holding.

04:16 PM GMT

Murray* 6-1 0-1 Muller (*denotes next server)

The match was evening up a touch at the end of that first set and Muller’s hold to 15 to start might just be a sign of things to come in this set.

04:12 PM GMT

Murray 6-1 0-0 Muller* (*denotes next server)

Two booming backhands from Murray to start the game. He’s looked very good in this first set to this point. The psychological baggage of his bad run appears not to be weighing him down in the slightest. Muller does pull himself back to 30-30 after Murray nets an easy forehand and then gets a look at a break point after another unforced error from the Scot. It’s soon saved though, with Murray putting away an easy volley at the net before making light work of the remainder of the game and, through that, the set.

04:04 PM GMT

Murray* 5-1 Muller (*denotes next server)

Murray looks a little better physically. He has not winced or grabbed at his left knee for sometime now and looks to be moving fairly smoothly. He gets the better of a net exchange, moving Muller from left to right before putting away an easy backhand. Muller turns back to the old, trusty one-two punch – big serve, bigger follow-up forehand. Very little the Scot can do about that but further errors continue to blight Muller and Murray gets a chance at a double break...which he takes!

03:58 PM GMT

Murray 4-1 Muller* (*denotes next server)

Brilliant from Murray. Forehand finds the line before a deft volley leaves Muller sprawling. Muller responds well though, injecting some serious pace into the point with a backhand cross-court to get back to 30-30 before getting the better of a long battle from the back of the court. Despite all that, Murray holds.

03:52 PM GMT

Murray* 3-1 Muller (*denotes next server)

Muller’s start continues to be a stinker. Double faults and unforced errors are blighting his ability to move a hampered Murray around the court. He fights back from 15-40 down to get back to deuce and then reads a Murray drop shot well to put a first game of the contest within his grasp. But Murray says no, coming quickly behind an excellent forehand to put away an easy volley. The Frenchman does eventually hold.

03:45 PM GMT

Medical timeout is over...

...Murray will continue for now.

03:42 PM GMT


An official medical timeout has now been called for Murray to receive treatment.

03:41 PM GMT

The trainer has been called for...

...Murray complaining about a pain on the left side of his knee. Says he had a scan on the knee yesterday so clearly there was some concern heading into this one.

03:39 PM GMT

Murray 3-0 Muller* (*denotes next server)

Another winner for Murray but another clutch of the knee as well. Tough to know quite how it’s affecting him because of how well he’s hitting the ball early on. However, if body language is anything to go by it does not look all that great for the Scot. More good serving and Murray takes a third straight game.

03:35 PM GMT

Murray* 2-0 Muller (*denotes next server)

Few early unforced errors will be a cause of concern for Murray fans, as will Muller’s unerring accuracy from the back of the court. Of even greater concern is Murray’s fitness, he appears to pull up out of slice backhand and doesn’t even attempt to run for a Muller drop shot.

In spite of all that Murray gets to deuce with thunderous forehand down the line before grabbing an early break with another winner.

03:29 PM GMT

Murray 1-0 Muller* (*denotes next server)

First point is a scorcher. Both players hitting aggressively from the back of the court before Murray nets with a slice backhand. Good serving gets the Scot out of trouble though and he begins the match with a solid hold.

03:25 PM GMT

Murray to serve first... we go.

03:24 PM GMT

Time called...

Seconds away from getting underway in Doha.

03:23 PM GMT

Form of his life

Despite being ranked 21 places below Murray in their rankings, Muller is paying the best tennis of his career at present. Seven wins to his name, four of which were top 50 successes. He represents a proper test for Murray.

03:18 PM GMT

Warm-up impending

The players are in the tunnel and should be warming up momentarily. For an ATP 250, the intros for both players are about as full-on as it gets. Strobes, spotlights, lasers...overenthusiatic American MC.

03:11 PM GMT

'It’s been difficult'

Andy Murray speaking to Sky Sports: “I’ve never experienced a period like this as a professional. It’s been difficult but it is good to experience new things and then learn from them. When I do get out of this rut I should be stronger for it.”

03:08 PM GMT

Gasquet beats Shevchenko

The ageless wonder that is 37-year-old Richard Gasquet has just beaten Alexander Shevchenko 6-4, 6-4 on Centre Court in Doha. Murray and Muller follow next...

03:05 PM GMT

Murray's last six singles results

  • ATP Marseille
    Lost 7-5, 6-4 to Tomas Machac

  • ATP Montpellier
    Lost 6-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 to Benoit Paire

  • Australian Open
    Lost 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 to Tomas Martin Etcheverry

  • ATP Brisbane 
    Lost 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 to Grigor Dimitrov

  • Paris Masters
    Lost 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 7-5 to Alex De Minaur

  • ATP Basel
    Lost 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-2 to Tomas Martin Etcheverry

03:04 PM GMT

Murray facing reckoning

To say it has been a rough start to 2024 for Andy Murray would be an understatement. Stretching back to the start of October last year, Murray has now lost his last six singles matches with his last defeat – to Czech Tomas Machac in Marseille – feeling like something of a professional nadir.

Of course there have been injury-ravaged seasons during which it appeared his body may fail him but in healthy seasons – which this seemingly is – the Scot has never before appeared so uncompetitive on tour.

At 36, talk has already turned to an impending retirement and Murray himself has opened the door to the idea of even dropping down to the Challenger Tour in an attempt to rediscover his form.

After his Machac loss, Murray said: “I can compete with the guys, but I haven’t won the matches, and when you lose them, you lose confidence,” Murray explained. “I never had that in my whole career. When I lost one week early, usually the next week it was semi-finals, finals, and winning. Now I’ve lost a lot, and close matches as well. It’s something I’ve not really experienced before.”

The Challenger Tour has not come knocking as yet and it’s the ATP 250 Qatar Open at which Murray has opted to try and lift the malaise currently hanging low over his game – and potentially career.

He got to the final here last year and under normal circumstances would expect to beat France’s Alexandre Muller fairly comfortably but in this current vein of form it is virtually impossible to prophesize which Murray we will get in Doha this afternoon.