Andy Murray continued his excellent preparation for Wimbledon with a second successive title.
The former world number one followed up his win at Surbiton last week with a flawless display to lift the Rothesay Nottingham Open. Murray beat Frenchman Arthur Cazaux 6-4 6-4 in the final to make it 10 wins in a row.
That is his best sequence since 2017, when he still topped the world rankings and was not playing with a metal hip.
And he will now head to his favourite stomping ground at Queen’s, where another good week will see him improve his ranking enough to be seeded at SW19.
He made it through the week at Nottingham without dropping a set, but it was a second-tier Challenger event so he will receive a truer test of where his game is at next week at Queen’s, with the likes of Carlos Alcaraz, Matteo Berrettini and Holger Rune all in the draw.
However, on the evidence of his movement, serving and matchplay this week, he looks a good bet to enjoy his best run at Wimbledon since he hobbled out of the 2017 quarter-finals with the hip injury that derailed his career.
His physicality was tested here as he won his semi-final at 6.30pm on Saturday night but was back on at 11am for the final, which was brought forward owing to the threat of rain on Sunday afternoon.
He hit the ground running, though, breaking the world number 181 in the opening game before eventually seeing the first set out 6-4.
The second set was much tighter, owing to Cazaux’s big serve, but Murray broke at 4-4 and then served it out to get his hands on the trophy.
Murray beats Cazaux in straight sets, as it happened
Lovely family moment for Murray
Really nice moment for Murray as he talks about trying to get home and see his kids before bedtime on Father’s Day.
But a shout from the crowd comes and the camera picks out his wife and children in the stands. Murray clearly had no idea they were there.
He thanks them for coming and seeing him win a title for the first time.
The winning moment for Murray
A man in form
Back to back Challenger titles and 10 wins in a row for Andy Murray.
Murray 6-4, 6-4 Cazaux* (*denotes next server)
Boooom! Murray first serve in play, he gets a short ball and finishes the point with a forehand winner, 15-0.
One of the longest rallies of the match, Casaux thinks he’s in control as he approaches the net but Murray finds the gap down the line with a backhand, 30-0.
Casaux return into the net, three championship points. Cazaux forehand long.
GAME. SET. CHAMPIONSHIP. MURRAY
Murray* 6-4, 5-4 Cazaux (*denotes next server)
The crowd are coming into the match now as they sense the moment for Murray. Another jaw dropping lob by Murray over Cazaux’s head, 15-30.
Murray on the attack, Cazaux on the defensive and he nets a backhand, break point Murray.
Murray gets a look at a second serve, he gets the ball back in play and Casaux nets a tame backhand.
Murray breaks and will serve for the championship.
Murray 6-4, 4-4 Cazaux* (*denotes next server)
Chance for Cazaux here as Murray nets a backhand, 15-30. Timely ace from Murray, 30-30.
He finds his first serve again and Casaux’s return goes wide. Third first serve in a row by Murray, this one the ball arcs away from Cazaux’s racket and the ball lands short of the net.
Big hold by Murray.
Murray* 6-4, 3-4 Cazaux (*denotes next server)
Murray gets a look at a second serve but sends a forehand return long, 30-15. He’s not happy with himself after that.
A series of deep forehands by Cazaux and Murray sends one of his own long, 40-30.
And Casaux holds serve to 30 with a forehand winner. No break points for either player in this set.
Murray 6-4, 3-3 Cazaux* (*denotes next server)
Great defensive lob by Cazaux sends Murray back to the baseline and he then misses a forehand, 30-15.
Stunning cross court backhand winner by Murray, 40-15. On the run, under pressure and he digs out the shot again.
Cazaux forehand long and Murray holds. Neither man is blinking as we approach the business end of the set.
Murray* 6-4, 2-3 Cazaux (*denotes next server)
Casaux continues to set the pace in the second set and holds to 15. The Frenchman is looking dangerous…
Murray 6-4, 2-2 Cazaux* (*denotes next server)
Class grass court tennis by Murray as he attacks the net and finishes with a backhand volley winner, 30-15.
Murray’s movement and feel have been on point today. All flowing very nicely.
And he holds to 15 to keep up with Cazaux.
Murray* 6-4, 1-2 Cazaux (*denotes next server)
Cazaux’s turn to hit a forehand winner after going back behind his opponent, 15-0.
Nice hit backhand overhead smash from Cazaux after a slip on his approach into the net, 40-15. And he holds when his backhand slice hits the net cord and drops short on Murray’s side.
Murray 6-4, 1-1 Cazaux* (*denotes next server)
Brilliant from Murray. Again wrong footing his opponent with a lovely backhand winner with Cazaux moving in the other direction.
Murray double fault, 30-30. Perfect lob again by Murray, seen it so many times over the years. Cazaux slices a backhand down the line and Murray is there to whip the lob over his head, 40-30.
And Murray holds after Cazaux fails to return a first serve down the T.
Second Set: Murray* 6-4, 0-1 Cazaux (*denotes next server)
Better start by Cazaux as he holds to love. The Frenchman has grown in confidence as the match has gone on.
The second set won’t be easy for Murray.
Murray 6-4 Cazaux* (*denotes next server)
Good injection of pace by Murray into the forehand on a short ball, 15-0. Another forehand winner into the same corner by Murray, 30-0.
A third forehand winner for the game, this time wrong footing Casaux, three set points,
And he seals an emphatic service game and the set with an ace.
Murray* 5-4 Cazaux (*denotes next server)
Frustration starting to build for building for Murray after he nets a backhand.
Superb from Murray to pass Casaux with a backhand winner, 15-30. Another long rally, side to side, patience then Cazaux strikes with a backhand down the line winner, 40-30.
Casaux sends a forehand long, deuce. Forehand just long from Murray and Casaux holds. Murray will serve for the set for a second time.
Credit to Casaux for fighting back in this set.
Murray 5-2 Cazaux* (*denotes next server)
An opening for Cazaux here as Murray nets a backhand, 0-30. He looks as shocked as everyone else to have missed.
Brilliant from Casaux. Good depth and power and he finishes with a cross court winner, three break points.
And Casaux takes. After looking so comfortable, Murray looked a bit sluggish and was punished.
Murray* 5-2 Cazaux (*denotes next server)
No Hawkeye of course so relying on line judges to make calls. And Cazaux is unhappy after his backhand is called long, 0-15.
You’d back Murray to make a lob but after a foray into the net by Cazaux, Murray’s effort is just long, 30-15.
But Cazax holds to 30 when Murray can’t get his first sere return back to play.
Murray to serve for the opening set next.
Murray 5-1 Cazaux* (*denotes next server)
A gruelling rally, both men have chances to finish the point but squander them before a weary Murray nets a forehand, 15-15.
Murray completes a service hold to 15 when Cazaux sends a forehand long.
Murray* 4-1 Cazaux (*denotes next server)
Point of the match from Cazaux as he takes charge of the rally with his forehand and finishes with a down the line winner, 30-0.
Back-to-back backhand errors put Murray back into the game, 30-30.
Murray applies pressure with his deep groundstrokes and Cazaux sends a forehand into the tramlines, break point.
Casaux finds a first serve but missed with a forehand after a short return by Murray.
Murray breaks again.
Murray 3-1 Cazaux* (*denotes next server)
First double fault of the match by Murray, 30-15. The watching Ivan Lendl doesn’t look happy.
Murray looks to have the game wrapped up when Cazaux lifts up a defensive lob but a very causal Murray nets a tame smash, 40-30. Strange shot.
Murray does eventually come through when Cazaux sends a backhand long.
Murray* 2-1 Cazaux (*denotes next server)
Love watching Murray play when he is hugging the baseline and refusing to give up ground. He’s being patient and drawing errors from Cazaux, who is under a lot of pressure in his service games.
A wrong-footing forehand winner by Cazaux makes it 40-30. And he holds after a big first serve is unreturned by Murray.
Murray 2-0 Cazaux* (*denotes next server)
Murray backs up the break with an impressive service hold to love.
Murray looks very sharp early. Looks fit, moving well, dominating from the baseline. Good signs so far.
First Set: Andy Murray* 1-0 Arthur Cazaux (*denotes next server)
Nice start by Cazaux as he finishes the opening point with an overhead smash. Another big serve down the T and Murray can’t et his forehand return into court, 30-15. First ace of the match makes it 40-15.
Murray drags Cazaux into the net with a short slice, the Frenchman doesn’t do enough with his approach shot and Murray sends a forehand down the line for a winner, 40-30.
Drop shot into the net by Cazaux, break point Murray. Cazaux finds another first serve down the T and Murray’s return is wide.
Vintage Murray. Good play by Cazaux but on the run, Murray hits a lovely backhand winner down the line. Second break point.
Great point. Cazaux slices a short backhand, Murray lifts a lob back over his head, Cazaux chases back and hits a tweener but Murray is at the net to finish with a volley winner.
After 10 minutes, Murray breaks.
Here we go!
It’s an early start but the stands are packed in Nottingham as Murray and Cazaux walk onto court for their match.
Forecast to rain today so hopefully the match is uninterrupted.
Cazaux wins the coin toss and opts to serve first.
Later on today…
… it will be the ‘Battle of Britain’ in Nottingham as Katie Boulter and Jodie Burrage battle in the first all-British WTA Tour final since 1977.
Murray feeling his best since surgery
In terms of physically how I have been, the last six to nine months have been really good and that has been the best I have felt since my surgery, that is really positive.
I am getting lots of matches in. I always feel really comfortable on the grass courts, so the next few weeks will be a good test for me.
Who is Arthur Cazaux?
Hails from Montpellier, France. He’s ranked 181 in the world and aged 20.
Lost in the first round of the French Open to compatriot Corentin Moutet.
Won a Challenger event in Thailand in January.
Defeated Adrian Mannarino in ATP Tour main draw debut in Geneva as 18-year-old wildcard in 2021.
Murray on a roll
Hello and welcome to coverage of the Rothesay Open in Nottingham as Andy Murray aims to win back-to-back finals.
Murray’s decision to skip the French Open and focus on earning a Wimbledon seeding has proven to be right with the former world No 1 in confident mood ahead of the grass court grand slam.
Last week he won the Surbition Trophy and he is yet to drop a set this week in Nottingham.
On Saturday, he eased past Portugal’s Nuno Borges 6-3, 6-2 in only 72 minutes for his ninth victory in a row.
“I probably wish I’d dropped down and played more at this level sooner,” said Murray. “I did play a few Challengers when I came back but maybe I should have stayed there a little bit longer.
“I’ve won against three or four top-100 players in this run. There’s been some good wins against experienced grass-court players.
“For me physically and mentally to get used to being in this situation more again has been really helpful. Now it’s up to me to try and carry that on at the higher level over the next few weeks.”
Victory for Murray would see him enter the top 40 in the world but he will still require wins at the Queen’s Club next week to be among the 32 seeds.
Today he faces Frenchman Arthur Cazaux, who defeated Dominik Koepfer 7-5, 6-2.
“If I was training at Queen’s, I would have been on the practice court for a couple of hours today and I would have been in the gym,” said Murray.
“There’s obviously the mental stress of the matches and competing but quite a few of the matches have been pretty quick. Physically I feel fine just now.
“I’ve played a lot of youngsters recently and it’s always tough. We practised with each other recently so hopefully (there are) not too many surprises.”