July 24, (THEWILL) – There was an early upset in the male doubles tennis event in the Tokyo Games on Saturday as the duo of Andy Murray and Joe Salisbury beat France’s Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert in straight sets 6-3 6-2 to qualify for the next round of Olympic tennis.
The fact that the French duo were the seeded second and were considered one of the favourites for a medal finish at the 2020 Olympics was compounded by the other fact that Murray has not recovered all of his pre-injury form to make the upset all the more stunning.
The victory gave Murray and Salisbury, his doubles partner for the Games, the opportunity to lay down their own contention and was a strong statement of intent on the first day of tennis action in Tokyo.
Murray played an inspired match and was animated throughout. The two pairs of players enjoyed a finely balanced first set until Murray and Salisbury took the opportunity to strike the first blow by breaking their rivals’ serve to lead 5-3 before serving to take that set with a service game shut-out.
It was a snapshot of how brilliantly the British players continued to handle their service games to frustrate Mahut and Herbert. The second set saw them hold serve in a lengthy second game and again in the fifth, to pile on the pressure, though they failed to convert service breaks offered.
A beautiful tweener by Salisbury helped the British side to finally break their opponents for a 3-2 lead. From there, there was no coming back for the second seeds because Murray and Salisbury took the remaining sets, with very patient and assured delivery to win 6-2.
It was a decisive victory, especially for Murray. He was a surprise pick for the Games having endured struggles with injuries in recent years. Even now, he is still finding his way back to full fitness and top form since a hip injury sidelined him for a lengthy spell.
It did not look good for Murray at his home Grand Slam in Wimbledon, when 10th seed Canadian Denis Shapovalov handed him a straight 6-4 6-2 6-2 third-round defeat. But, the two-time Olympic singles gold medalist and one-time mixed doubles silver medalist is looking good for another medal at the Games again.
In the other game, Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski also progressed with a comeback from a set down to beat Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos and Andres Molteni 13-11 in a champions tie-break. Jamie was a late replacement in the doubles for Dan Evans, who missed the Games after testing positive for COVID-19.
Murray and Salisbury will next take on Germany’s Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz in the second round after the latter beat Argentina duo Facundo Bagnis and Diego Schwartzman in straight sets also.