August 20, 2021 11:57 PM

It’s a first-round blockbuster. Nick Kyrgios and Andy Murray are scheduled to clash in the 2021 Winston-Salem Open.

“It’s matchup no one wanted but everyone wanted,” says Tournament Director Jeff Ryan. “We couldn’t be more excited to host these two amazing athletes, and I know a lot of people were hoping they would get to play each other – just probably not right away. Still, it will be some world-class tennis, and we are very proud of that.”

Murray says he is ready for the challenge he knows his friend will present.

“It’s obviously a tough match. Nick is one of the most talented guys on the tour. I’m pretty friendly with him. We know each other well away from the court, but he’s never easy to play.”

“He’s got a huge serve, and he can play all of the shots. It’s certainly not an easy first round for either of us.”

Murray didn’t have an easy first round in 2019 when he was last in Winston-Salem. The popular Scot bowed out in two nail-biting sets to American Tennys Sandgren (7-6, 7-5), but he is showing good form as of late.

Though the former World No. 1 lost to Hubert Hurkacz, the 2019 Winston-Salem Open winner, this last week in Cincinnati, Murray put up a good showing and says he is ready for the challenging conditions ahead.

“The courts are playing pretty quick. I think it’s really similar to a lot of the courts at the U.S. Open which is perfect preparation for that. There aren’t a lot of long rallies, but the conditions are very draining.”

“The last time I played here, I played in the evening, but even then, the humidity can be brutal.”

Murray leads the head-to-head against Kyrgios 5-1, with the Australian taking their most recent meeting three years ago at the Queens Club.


Qualifying rounds set

Saturday’s first ball will drop at noon with a qualifying field of full of Americans and local favorites. 

In the first of two all-American matchups, Denis Kudla faces Sekou Bangora, followed by former Winston-Salem Open finalist Pierre-Hughes Herbert who will take on Wake Forest standout Eduardo Nava on Stadium Court.

Fan-favorite Donald Young will kick-off his campaign when he squares off against Tung-Lin Wu.

The day rounds out when two former NCAA stars do battle. JC Aragone, who had a successful career at the University of Virginia, is set for his match against another former Wake Forest Demon Deacon, Noah Rubin, who has been ranked as high as 125 in the world.

Gates will open for fans at 11:00 a.m.