Murray Ends Rubin’s Lucky Loser Stay in Winston-Salem | ATP Tour

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Barely an hour before Noah Rubin took the court to face former World No. 1 Andy Murray at the Winston-Salem Open on Sunday, the American had good cause to believe his shot at a main draw berth was over.

Murray ensured his opponent’s stay would not last another hour following a 6-2, 6-0 victory under the lights, but it was a main draw reprieve Rubin never expected in the first place. The 25-year-old had held a match point on serve before he fell in a dramatic final-round qualifying match to Lucas Pouille earlier on Sunday.

Then came an 11th-hour main draw call-up, following Nick Kyrgios’ withdrawal due to a knee injury. Murray said it was quite the change from preparing to face the unpredictable Kyrgios, over whom he held a 5-1 ATP Head2Head record, to then taking on a lucky loser at No. 306 in the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time.

“Originally I was playing Nick and he had an injury to his knee so wasn’t going to play. I didn’t know if I was going to play tonight. They said if I was playing against a qualifier then I wouldn’t play and then I drew a lucky loser… so then I was playing Noah… It was tricky,” Murray said in his on-court interview.

“It was obviously difficult for 45 minutes and then the first couple of games because you’ve gone over a strategy with your coach about the match you’re going to play and then obviously that changes.

“… Twenty minutes before you go on court you’re playing someone you haven’t played against.”

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Murray kicked off his North American hard-court swing last week with a first-round victory over Richard Gasquet before putting up a tough fight against ninth seed Hubert Hukacz in a second-round defeat. He continued to build up valuable match-play in only his sixth tour-level singles event this season on Sunday as he won 92 per cent of first-serve points and broke five times to book a second-round meeting with 13th seed Frances Tiafoe.

“It’s a bit tricky but obviously after the first few games I started to get a bit more comfortable and then towards then end he was struggling a bit,” Murray said of the 58-minute win. “Unfortunately I know he’s from here and that’s great. It was a nice atmosphere to play in and everything but my job is to try to win the match.”

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