Andy Murray tuned-up for his Rome return with a milestone moment.
The 35-year-old Murray rallied past top-seeded American Tommy Paul 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 to capture the Aix-en-Provence Challenger title.
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It’s Murray’s first title in nearly four years and his first clay-court crown since he won Rome in 2016.
“This last year, 18 months, has been a bit of struggle with my game,” Murray said. “But [my family and team] have been there supporting me and working with me to try and get better.
“We keep going from here.”
This red-clay rebirth propels Murray 10 spots up in the rankings to No. 42—his highest ranking since May of 2018.
The former world No. 1 will face a blockbuster against theatrical Italian Fabio Fognini in his Rome opener.
Many fans will remember the pair nearly came to blows in a heated exchange at the 2019 Shanghai.
Murray accused Fognini of yelling in a verbal hindrance as he was about to strike a sitter volley. Fognini barked “don’t look at me” with Murray later admonishing the Italian to “shut up!”
While both are older and slightly mellower these days, Fognini added further fuel to the fire in his memoir conceding while he respects Murray’s skills he just doesn’t like the two-time Olympic gold-medal champion.
If he continues his ranking rise, Murray can aim for a seeded spot at Wimbledon, where he’s aiming to make a second-week run.
The owner of 46 career titles, Murray said he has a couple of clear long-term goals:
1. Make a deep run at a major.
2. Win 50 career titles.
“I want to try and get to 50 tournament wins,” Murray said. “I want to try and have a deep run in one of the majors, as well. Hopefully more than one, but, you know, that’s what I want to do. So, yeah, we’ll see how it goes.”
Photo credit: Andy Murray Instagram
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