‘There was some good stuff in there’ – Murray positive despite Winston-Salem exit

Andy Murray

Andy Murray is still searching for his first singles win since hip surgery after losing 7-6 7-5 to Tennys Sandgren in the Winston-Salem Open first round.

The former world number one played with conviction and fluency in the first set, but lost it on a tie-break 10-8.

Despite recovering from a double break down to square the second set at 5-5, Britain’s Murray was broken again by American world number 73 Sandgren.

“I think there was some good stuff in there,” Murray, 32, told BBC Sport.

“I think my ball striking was better than last week. I hit quite a few more winners, came to the net quite a lot. Obviously I didn’t win but I do feel I was a bit more in control of what was happening out there.

“Physically I felt OK in the rallies, but I did notice in the second set that my first serve wasn’t as good, and I think maybe my legs were a little bit heavy at the end there.”

Last week, Murray lost in straight sets to Richard Gasquet in Cincinnati in his first singles match since January’s Australian Open.

His match against Sandgren started at 22:15 local time after a five-hour delay caused by heavy rain, thunder and lightning.

And even after completing the warm up, the players had to remain in their chairs for a further 15 minutes to wait for another light shower to pass and the court to be dried with towels and electric blowers.

Murray started superbly, forcing nine deuces and one break point in a 14-minute opening game before Sandgren eventually held his serve.

Both men served very well after that, but having saved three set points in the tie-break, Murray put a stretch volley into the net and Sandgren won it 10-8.

The first set lasted 74 minutes, but after making a poor start to the second, Murray struggled in vain to take the match into a decider.

Murray will not be in New York when the US Open gets underway on Monday, but he may instead play on the ATP Challenger Tour.

He will fly home from Winston-Salem on Tuesday but is actively considering whether to compete in next week’s Challenger event in Mallorca.

“I think for my body it would be a good thing because I do feel at that level I will be winning matches each week,” Murray added.

“And I think it would be good for my game as well because I’m not quite seeing the points as I used to. And if I can get more matches, I’ll start to work that out a little bit quicker, and see it faster.

“I would probably rather stay playing outdoors because the next couple of tour events I’m playing are outdoors in Asia, but I haven’t given it tonnes of thought.”

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Aru and Pogacar head UAE Team Emirates for Vuelta a Espana

UAE Team Emirates have announced 2015 Vuelta a España champion Fabio Aru and this year’s winner of the Tour of California, Tadej Pogačar, as their leaders for the 2019 Vuelta a España, which starts on Saturday.

Colombia’s Fernando Gaviria will be their main man for bunch sprints, and the eight-man team will be completed with a trio of Italians – Valerio Conti, Marco Marcato and Oliviero Troia – and two more Colombians in Sergio Henao and Sebastian Molano.

“As always, the Vuelta a España represents an important and stimulating challenge, both in terms of the route and the quality of the start list,” said Aru in a team press release.

“I’m excited and ready to race, especially since the operation I had four months ago,” he added, with the Italian having had to undergo surgery earlier in the season for a constriction of the iliac artery in his left leg.

Aru was forced to miss the Giro d’Italia as a result, but returned to competition in June, and rode the Tour de France in July, finishing 14th overall.

He won the Vuelta overall back in 2015, beating Joaquim Rodriguez and Rafal Majka, but the now 29-year-old has been unable to reach a Grand Tour podium since then.

“The goal is to compete at a high level, but also to be consistent,” he said of his Vuelta hopes.

Pogačar, meanwhile, at just 20 years old, won the 2019 Tour of California in convincing fashion in May, attacking on the penultimate stage to Mount Baldy, and getting the better of the then 21-year-old Sergio Higuita (EF Education First) both on the stage and overall.

“I’m really excited to be able to participate in my first Grand Tour, and can’t wait to be on the starting ramp for the team time trial [on Saturday] and start this new challenge,” said the young Slovenian.

“I’ll be in Spain with the aim of learning as much as possible, understanding how to move in the bunch in such an important race, and how to manage it over the three weeks,” he continued. “It’s the only way I can start building something good for the next few years.”

However, team manager Joxean Matxin hinted that there may be a bigger role for Pogačar to play alongside Aru.

“For the general classification, we’ve got Fabio, whose condition has grown a lot, and he’s approaching the Vuelta with great concentration and determination,” Matxin said of Aru.

“The choice was also made that the talented Tadej Pogačar would make his debut after proving this year that he is not only a contender for the future, but for the present, too,” he said.

UAE Team Emirates for the 2019 Vuelta a España: Fabio Aru, Valerio Conti, Fernando Gaviria, Sergio Henao, Marco Marcato, Sebastian Molano, Tadej Pogačar, Oliviero Troia

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‘I wanted to go a different way’ – Evans splits with coach over ‘differences’

Dan Evans

Dan Evans says his surprise decision to split with coach David Felgate was because the pair started to see “a few things differently”.

The British number two informed Felgate of his decision at the start of August, a few days after losing in the first round of the ATP event in Washington.

Evans enjoyed an excellent grass-court season, culminating in a third-round defeat to Joao Sousa at Wimbledon.

In February he reached his second ATP final in Delray Beach.

“I saw a few things different, I think, to the way he saw it,” Evans told BBC Sport at the Winston-Salem Open.

“At the end of the day I’m on the court, and it’s how I felt.

“It was amicable, no hard feelings. I sat down and said it was going to come to an end, and that was that.

“I wanted to go a different way and try something new. I’ve never had to do that before. It was not an easy conversation but it was better for me to say it there and then than carry on until the end of this trip, and waste this trip.

“I sort of felt that way as soon as I came back and we started again after Wimbledon. Maybe I lost my spark with him, but it just didn’t feel right, and I thought it needed to change.”

Evans and Felgate started working together after last year’s Wimbledon. The British Davis Cup player was outside the top 300 at the time, as he fought his way back from a doping ban, but now stands at 58 in the world.

Evans says he wants to play more aggressively in future, and will try to come forward towards the net, a little more.

“I thought, over the grass, I was pretty defensive and not really putting my game out there. I felt it was time for a new start – to make that change, and to play that way,” the 29 year old added.

The former British player Joshua Milton, who now coaches in San Diego, is assisting Evans in Winston-Salem this week. As the fifth seed, Evans was given a first-round bye and will play his second-round match on Tuesday.

Evans said he does not yet know who he will work with in future, but says Britain’s Davis Cup captain Leon Smith has agreed to help out where he can during the US Open, which begins on Monday.

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