Andy Murray’s miserable run continued with a first round loss to Tomas Machac at the Open 13 Provence. The 36-year-old’s 7-5, 6-4 loss to the Czechs in Marseille was his sixth in a row since October and means he has won just one of his last 10 games.
Murray has admitted he is considering when to retire, but he railed against a suggestion he could damage his legacy by continuing to play, writing on X last week: “Most people would in my current situation give up and give up.” But I’m not like most people and my mind works differently. I will not give up.”
It wasn’t a bad performance against the up-and-coming player Machac, 23 years old and ranked 66th, but there were costly mistakes here too. Murray recovered from an early break and appeared to have the momentum late in the opening set, but Machac broke serve at 5-5. The Czech then took the lead at the start of the second set and Murray was unable to catch up.
However, it was a much better day for Heather Watson, who earned her best ranking victory since 2017, defeating ninth seed Veronika Kudermetova 6-3, 7-5 at the Abu Dhabi Open. Watson struggled in 2023, but she played confident, aggressive tennis to defeat the 16th-ranked Russian. The win could take them back into the top 130 in the world.
“I know she’s such a great player, so I knew I had to play really well today,” said Watson, who beat former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the first round of qualifying. “I just focused on what I could control, my serve, and just tried to be as aggressive as possible. I played really well today and had a lot of fun out here.”
Watson joins compatriot Emma Raducanu in the second round and faces Spain’s Cristina Bucsa in the next round.
Earlier in the day, Naomi Osaka suffered defeat in her opening match against Danielle Collins at the Abu Dhabi Open. The four-time Grand Slam champion made her comeback last month after giving birth to her first child, reaching the second round of the Brisbane International before narrowly losing to Caroline Garcia in her opening match at the Australian Open.
These performances gave ample cause for encouragement, but Osaka faded badly against American Collins, losing 7-5, 6-0. In a first set dominated by serves, there were few rallies until Collins grabbed the decisive break at 5-5. From then on, the former Australian Open finalist ran away from the competition, with Osaka committing 20 unforced errors and looking disheartened as she lost her serve four times in a row.
Osaka plans to play a busier schedule than before her 15-month break, but it is clear the 26-year-old still has a lot of work to do if she wants to get back to the top of the game. Collins, who plans to retire at the end of the season, will face top seed Elena Rybakina in the second round.