Andy Murray guaranteed a return to the top 50 of the ATP rankings with victory over Harold Mayotte to reach the final of the ATP Challenger Tour event in Aix-en-Provence, France.
The Scotsman, currently ranked 52nd, made a late entry into the second round after losing in the first round of the Madrid Open last week and has used the opportunity to make it four wins in a row.
All were drawn against French players – including former world No. 6 Gael Monfils and rising star Luca Vi in the first round.An ace – a threat to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic at the Srpska Open; And Murray comfortably beat 21-year-old Mayotte 241, 7-5 6-1 to set up a final against American Tommy Paul.
One result of the decision to extend the clay-court Masters events in Madrid and Rome to two weeks has been a strong challenger field this week, with Paul a top-20 player and an Australian Open semi-finalist in January.
Murray gained confidence during the week and went on to make it seven games in a row. Mayotte bowed under the pressure of double-faulting to drop the opening set.
Closing out matches has been a struggle for Murray in recent years and he was a bit shaky and lost two match points at 5-0 before finally taking advantage of the fifth chance to end the match.
His smile says it all
Welcome to the Aix Final, Andy Murray!#ATPChallenger pic.twitter.com/yEwQv78cF7
– ATP Challenger Tour (@ATPChallenger) May 6, 2023
It was Murray’s second final of the season after an ATP Tour tournament in Doha in February, where he lost to Daniil Medvedev.
In the year In 2019, the Scot is bidding for his first title since Antwerp, and if Pole wins, he will claim his first challenger title for 18 years.
His hopes of seeding outside the 40s for Wimbledon will be a huge boost, especially after his recent nightmare run.
Following a good February in which he reached the Qatar final and the third round of Indian Wells in February, Murray lost his opening matches at the Miami Open, the Monte Carlo Masters and the Madrid Open.
If he does lift the trophy on Sunday, it will be interesting to see if Murray also signs up for an ATP Challenger if he heads to Bordeaux. BNP Paribas Primrose BordeauxStarts May 15th.
WATCH: Birthday boy and new dad Andy Murray beats upset Novak Djokovic in Rome