Former world #1 Andy Murray will look to continue his comeback from a serious hip injury against Romania’s Marius Copil in Washington. Prior to this week’s tournament, Murray had played just three matches in 2018 and he pulled out of Wimbledon citing a lack of preparedness for Grand Slam match play. But he has looked impressive so far in Washington. Copil, however, will have ambitions of his own in the US capital. Who will come out on top?
Murray and Copil have met just once before, with that match coming last year in Madrid in the second round. Copil had scored his first win at Masters 1000 level in the previous round and broken into the top 100 as a result. But whilst Murray congratulated him on the achievement at the match’s conclusion, he gave the Romanian little cause for celebration on the court. The then-world #1 advanced a comfortable 6-3 6-4 winner despite Copil’s best efforts.
Path to the third round
Murray began his Washington campaign in the first round against home hope Mackenzie McDonald, who made a run to the fourth round at Wimbledon in July. It was the American who made the better start, winning the first set. But Murray dug deep to pull out the win, advancing 3-6 6-4 7-5 to set up a clash with his compatriot Kyle Edmund. It was another hard-fought affair, but Murray eventually prevailed 7-6 1-6 6-4 against the man who has supplanted him as the British #1.
Copil opened his Washington Open against Bosnia’s Mirza Basic, who defeated him earlier this season in a hard-fought affair in the final in Sofia. But in Washington, Copil had his revenge, ousting Basic in straight sets to claim his 12th win of the season on the main Tour. He backed that up in the second round against Jeremy Chardy of France, the 14th seed. Copil played an excellent match to beat the higher-ranked man 6-4 6-4 and reach the third round.
How do they match up?
The cornerstone of Murray’s success throughout his career has been his ability to make his opponent play one more ball than they would have to against most players. Though that is far from the only tactic available to Murray, his defensive skills are superb and he has used them well so far in Washington. They have covered for the weaknesses currently plaguing his game namely his forehand and second serve, both of which have looked vulnerable.
Copil is blessed with considerable power on both wings and he is comfortable dictating from the back of the court. His forehand is his biggest weapon, but Murray will need to be wary of his one-handed backhand as well. Copil is also a big server and will test Murray’s returning skills. What holds the Romanian back, however, is a lack of consistency. For all the power he can hit the ball with, he lacks real control and thus often bleeds unforced errors.
Murray looks fit and hungry for wins. And although, as mentioned above, there are holes in his game, Copil doesn’t seem like the right man to exploit them. Rather, his aggressive but risky style should play into the hands of Murray, who will be happy to put balls back into play without having to be too aggressive himself. Whilst it won’t be straightforward for the Scot, his poor serving alone should see to that, expect him to advance in three.