Andy Murray admitted to feel off the pace for his Tour-level return in his pre-tournament press, but he showed he had not forgotten what it takes to win. In his first official match since the Davis Cup Finals, the former World No.1 completed a 7-6(6) 3-6 6-1 victory over Frances Tiafoe at the Western & Southern Open.
The American came to the net 22 times, winning 17 of those points. The two-time Wimbledon champion managed to open up the court and dictate the pace in longer rallies, exploiting his opponent’s inconsistencies on return.
Murray played the key points of the match far better than the less experienced Tiafoe, raising his level from 2-5 down in the opening tiebreak and moving immediately 3-0 up to destabilise the flashy American in the opening stages of the deciding set.
When he claimed a second break to build a 4-1 lead with a backhand return winner, the Brit guaranteed his 32nd victory at Masters 1000 event.
Andy Murray [WC] v Alexander Zverev  | Murray leads H2H 1-0
Ranked 129th in the world, Murray has been awarded a wildcard into the main draw of both tournaments in New York, the Western & Southern Open and the US Open. Beating Tiafoe, he improved his win-loss record to 19-12 since undergoing the first of two right hip surgeries in January 2018, highlighted by his 46th title at 2019 Antwerp, his last ATP Tour event before this week.
The German added former World No. 3 David Ferrer to his team, whom he beat in his last career match in Madrid last summer. Zverev appreciated the Spaniard’s dedication and his organised method. He looked eager to compete again, as he hasn’t played Tour-level matches since the ATP 500 tournament in Acapulco last February.
Murray, a two-time Western & Southern Open champion (2008, 2011), defeated him in their lone previous meeting, a first-round encounter at the 2016 Australian Open.
Prediction: Murray in three sets
Kevin Anderson [PR] def. Kyle Edmund 7-6(3) 4-6 6-3
Kyle Edmund came agonisingly close to moving in to the second round in New York. He discovered, however, that getting close is not enough. After a three-hour long battle, involving medical timeout and several shirt changes, the Brit surrendered to Kevin Anderson in three tough sets.
The British No.2 served for the opening set at 5-3, went 3-1 in the tiebreak, broke back to 2-2 in the second set, missed multiple break point chances at 2-2 and 3-3 in the decider. He would come to regret those missed chances, finally gifting the crucial break to 5-3 in the third set hitting a clearly mis-timed forehand.
The South African hit 20 aces and 30 overall winners to seal his first win at Masters 1000 level since 2019, when he lost to Roger Federer in Indian Wells.
Reilly Opelka def. Cameron Norrie [Q] 6-3 6-4
New York is a special place for Reilly Opelka. The American giant, capable to hit more than 1,000 aces in a season for the first time last year, won the first of his two two tour-level trophies here at the 2019 New York Open.
An thoughtful guy, seemingly not super-intense about tennis, Opelka enjoys enlarging his personal art gallery, now consisting of seven, eight cool pieces.
At the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre, home of the US Open, he began with a routine victory over Cameron Norrie, confirming he’s making further progress on serve. In fact, according to the ATP, he has hit an average of 23.78 aces per match in 2020 versus 21.13 in 2019.
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