Andy Murray’s unfortunate streak persists as he was defeated by Tomas Machac in the first round of the Open 13 Provence. The 36-year-old has now lost six consecutive matches since October, winning only one out of his last 10 games.
Murray has acknowledged that he is considering when to end his career, but he strongly opposed the idea that continuing to play would diminish his reputation. In a recent post on X, he stated, “Many would throw in the towel in my current circumstances. But I am not like most people and my mindset is different. I will not give up.”
This was not a bad performance against a player on the rise in 23-year-old Machac, ranked 66, but again there were costly lapses. Murray recovered from an early break and appeared to have the momentum late in the opening set, only for Machac to break serve at 5-5. The Czech then moved ahead early in the second set and Murray was unable to recover the deficit.
Heather Watson had a much improved day as she achieved her best win against a top-ranked opponent since 2017, defeating ninth-seeded Veronika Kudermetova 6-3, 7-5 at the Abu Dhabi Open. While Watson faced challenges in 2023, she showed confidence and played aggressively to defeat the 16th-ranked Russian. This victory may bring her back into the top 130 players in the world.
“I was aware of her talent as a player, so I knew I needed to perform at my best today,” stated Watson, who emerged victorious against former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the initial qualifying round. “I directed my attention towards what I could control, my serve, and I aimed to be as assertive as possible. I had a strong performance and thoroughly enjoyed my time on the court today.”
British player Watson advances to the second round alongside fellow countrywoman Emma Raducanu. She is set to compete against Spaniard Cristina Bucsa in the upcoming round.
In the earlier match of the Abu Dhabi Open, Naomi Osaka was defeated by Danielle Collins. After giving birth to her first child, the four-time grand slam champion made her return last month and reached the second round of the Brisbane International. However, she lost a tight match against Caroline Garcia in her first match at the Australian Open.
The performances were promising, but Osaka struggled against Collins, losing 7-5, 6-0. The first set was mostly dominated by serve until Collins broke at 5-5. After that, Collins easily won the match, with Osaka making 20 unforced errors and appearing discouraged as she lost serve four consecutive times.
Osaka intends to have a more extensive schedule compared to her previous 15-month hiatus, but it is evident that the 26-year-old has a lot of ground to cover in order to regain her position at the pinnacle of the sport. Collins, who has announced her retirement at the end of this season, advances to a second-round match against top-seeded Elena Rybakina.