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Andy Murray made Challenger Tour history by defeating Tommy Paul to lift the title in…



Andy Murray made ATP Challenger Tour history as he came from a set down to win the Aix-en-Provence title. The Brit stormed back to defeat top seed Tommy Paul 2-6 6-1 6-2 and set a new record for the most time elapsed between lifting Challenger titles. It marks his first trophy at any level since 2019 and his first on the clay in seven years.

Murray was competing in his first clay final at any level since the 2016 French Open, as he Paul. The American had won their only prior meeting in the 2021 Stockholm quarter-final, edging past the former world No 1 in three sets.

The world No 17 got off to a quick start, dropping just three points in the first four games as he took a double-break lead. Murray finally managed to get on the board at 1-4 but couldn’t earn any of the breaks back, quickly losing the opener 6-2 in 29 minutes.

The three-time Major champion turned the match on its head in the second set as he was the one racing to a 4-0 double-break lead. It was a complete reversal of fortune for Murray, who took it 6-1 in 36 minutes to force a decider.

His momentum continued into the third and final set, as the fifth seed again broke Paul in the opening game. He had chances to take another double-break lead but the 25-year-old was able to hold for 1-2.
Another break point came and went for Murray but he maintained was finally able to get another look in on the Paul serve as he broke again to go 5-2 up and serve for the match. And he closed out a three-set comeback victory to lift his first title in three-and-a-half years.

With the win, Murray has also broken David Ferrer’s record of the longest time elapsing between picking up Challenger titles. The retired Spaniard has 17 years and two months between winning Sopot in August 2001 and Monterrey in October 2018.

But the 35-year-old made history with a 17-year-and-nine-month gap between his last Challenger title victory in Binghamton, New York from August 2005 to Sunday’s triumph at the Open du Pays d’Aix. The title also marked his first since winning the European Open in 2019.

And it is his first on the clay since the 2016 Rome Masters. Murray now has a positive 5-2 record on the dirt this season after suffering two early exits in Monte Carlo and Madrid, prompting him to take a wildcard into Aix-en-Provence. He will return to the world’s top 50 when the rankings update on Monday at No 42 – his highest ranking in five years.

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