10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Ricky’s preview and pick for the Doha final: Medvedev vs. Murray

To say that Andy Murray took the scenic route to the Qatar ExxonMobil Open final would be an understatement. If he wants to take one more step to the title, he will probably have to do it even more difficult and more improbable fashion.

Murray’s reward for a quartet of three-set victories–two in which he saved multiple match points–is a showdown with fellow former world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev in the championship match on Saturday evening. The 35-year-old Scot may not be playing on a full tank of energy, but he can’t be counted out following his exploits so far this week. Murray fought off three match points against Lorenzo Sonego in round one and five against Jiri Lehecka in the semis. Lehecka even led 40-0 on his own serve at 5-4 in the third set on Saturday.

Nonetheless, Murray battled into the Doha final for the fifth time in his career and will bid for his third title.

“It’s unbelievable [what Murray has done this week],” Medvedev praised. “As soon as someone arrives at match point, that’s where the match starts. So I have to be at my best from the first to the last point tomorrow to try to beat him.

“He’s a legend. He’s playing better and better I feel like; not only here, but in general. This is amazing to see. He’s fighting. Today was just unbelievable the way he won, so I’m really happy to face him tomorrow.”

Medvedev hasn’t exactly had an easy time of it in Doha, either. The world No. 8 went to 7-5 in the third set with Christopher O’Connell in the quarterfinals and then held off Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 7-6(7) in the semis. His winning streak now stands at eight, also including last week’s Rotterdam triumph.

“Today and yesterday the matches were super close,” Medvedev admitted. “Confidence matters, because [Auger-Aliassime] had [three] set points. I managed to just stay in there and it was enough to win, but a very high-level match. (It took) two hours for two sets.”

Murray will have to get off to a fast start if he wants to have a chance, because Medvedev is the last person anyone wants to face in a three-hour baseline grind–especially on the heels of four three-set matches. The three-time major champion can be competitive, but asking him to complete this incredible run by pulling off a big upset is probably too much to ask.

Look for Medvedev to wear Murray down in the end and improve to 3-0 lifetime in the head-to-head series.

Pick: Medvedev in 3

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.