By: Ben Raby (www.twitter.com/benraby31)
Before a sold-out Stadium Court Monday evening, Mikael Ymer earned one of the biggest wins of his career. The 23-year-old Swede held off former World No.1 Andy Murray 7-6, 4-6, 6-1 in a marathon math that took nearly three hours to complete.
Ymer said post-match that the win was especially gratifying because he grew up modelling his game after Murray’s and has long admired the three-time Grand Slam champion.
“I’m excited,” Ymer said in his post-match on-court interview. “It was the first day [of the U.S. hardcourt swing], so obviously a lot left to do, but it’s a very good start.”
The back-and-forth affair saw Ymer save four set points in the opening stanza before prevailing in 80 minutes. Murray responded in the second set overcoming an early 3-1 deficit and winning five of the next six games to even the match.
But the lengthy match took its toll with Murray ultimately having to fight through some cramping issues on a hot and humid evening in Rock Creek Park.
“I started cramping at the end of the first set,” Murray said. “After that you're just trying to, I guess, find a way and get through the match, if you can find a way to win… Really hot and humid. Usually I quite enjoy playing in those conditions. Yeah, struggled a little bit the last two tournaments with that.”
Ymer advanced to the second round where he will face No.15 seed Aslan Karatsev on Wednesday.
“He's a very good mover,” Murray said of Ymer. “He defended very well. When I came forward into the net, he passed extremely well… He almost liked it when you were the aggressor and he was defending and moving. He was very solid from defensive positions and moved exceptionally well.”
EDMUND EARNS FIRST TOUR-LEVEL WIN IN 700 DAYS
While Murray’s Citi Open run came to a premature end, fellow Brit Kyle Edmund earned a win 21 months in the making.
Competing in a Tour-level singles event for the first time since October 2020, Edmund held off Japanese qualifier Yosuke Watanuki 6-4, 7-6 in the opening match on John Harris Court.
“This is how you build momentum- getting through matches when maybe you’re not quite at your best,” said Edmund, who is back on Tour for the first time since undergoing three knee surgeries.
The win was first in exactly 700 days.
“Just being back playing in these types of atmospheres and feeling pressure- I didn’t have that for 20 months- so, it’s nice to feel it again.”
Edmund says his lengthy rehab could have pushed him towards retirement. Instead, his passion for the game pushed him through. The former World No.14 will now face countryman and No.16 seed Daniel Evans at 12 p.m. Tuesday in the opening match on John Harris Court.
Click here for more on Edmund’s long journey back and his expectations moving forward.
KUDLA, DRAPER ALSO ADVANCE:
Local favorite and JTCC alum Denis Kudla (Arlington, Va.) also advanced to the second round, as he rallied to beat American qualifier Michael Mmoh 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the first men’s match on Stadium Court.
Kudla is making his eighth career Citi Open appearance, having twice reached the quarterfinals (2018, 2021). The 29-year-old will next face No.4 seed Reilly Opelka in the Round-of-32 on Wednesday.
Kudla is also partnering with Canadian Denis Shapovalov in men’s doubles. The tandem will face Rohan Bopanna and Matwe Middelkoop Tuesday evening.
One of the youngest players in the men’s draw, #NextGenATP star Jack Draper advanced with a 7-5, 6-2 win over American wild card Stefan Kozlov. Draper, 20, will next face No.1 seed Andrey Rublev on Stadium Court on Tuesday.
Other first-round winners on Monday included Benoit Paire, Adrian Mannarino, Alexei Popyrin, qualifiers Borna Gojo and Dominik Koepfer plus American wild card J.J. Wolf.