Andy Murray and Cameron Norrie celebrated their inclusion in GB’s Davis Cup squad for Glasgow next month with victories at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, a Masters 1000 event, only to find themselves facing each other in round two.
I would like my tennis to be better at times, because I'm still convinced that it can be better than where it is right now, Andy Murray
Murray won his first hardcourt match of the summer defeating his old rival Stan Wawrinka 7-6(3) 5-7 7-5 while Norrie earned his first win at the Cincinnati Masters with a 7-6(5) 4-6 6-4 victory over Dane Holger Rune.
The 35-year-old Scot was facing his 37-year-old Swiss rival for the 22nd time with both treble Grand Slam champions still attempting to get back to full form after long-term injuries over the past few seasons.
Murray lost in the first round at Washington and last week in Montreal while Wawrinka’s last win came on grass two months ago at Queen’s Club, London. On hardcourts he hasn’t win since the Australian Open in 2021.
And it proved an absorbing contest between the two veteran players who fought hard through two hours and 57-minutes before Murray was able, on his fourth match point, to complete his 13th win over Wawrinka.
“We’re not young anymore,” said Murray, a two-time former champion (2008 and 2011) who was making his 17th appearance at Cincinnati.
.”Both of us gave our best right until the end.
“Matches like this are a lot tougher than when we were in our mid-20s.
“Both of us love this sport, we’ve had our issues with injuries the last few years.
“The sport has been a huge part of my life; I started playing when I was four.”
Both struggled physically and both required regular treatment from the physio, not surprisingly considering their ages and their history of injuries.
Wawrinka failed to convert one of three break points in the opening set and that Murray hold proved crucial for the Scot who then dominated the tie-break to take the opening set.
The big Swiss, who only returned to the tour in April after 13 months out with a foot injury, lead 2-1 in the second, then required treatment on the leg and took a medical time-out for a rub down of his left calf.
No doubt suitably rejuvenated, Wawrinka broke to lead 5-3 and provide himself with the opportunity to level the score.
However, Murray was not to be denied and for the first time in the match, broke Wawrinka’s serve but then couldn’t hang onto his own as he fell behind 6-5 as his rival went on to force a deciding set.
Now Murray was starting to feel the physical pressure as he was broken in the second game and struggled with cramp. However, he managed to recover, breaking straight back and then receiving treatment at the changeover.
With both players continuing to need attention from the physios, the set continued on serve until Murray broke for 5-4 with a rasping return which left him serving for the match.
A tense game saw Murray unable to take any of three match points, including one after being docked a first serve on the third for a second time violation. On his fourth he delivered a huge unreturnable serve down the middle to close out an enthralling contest between two great rivals.
Commenting on his physical condition, Murray said his body was feeling the best it had “in a really long time” but it was his actual game which needed improvement.
“I would like my tennis to be better at times, because I’m still convinced that it can be better than where it is right now,” he said.
“It’s not been easy these last few years to stay fit and healthy and play enough tennis.
Playing at virtually the same time, the current British No.1 world ranked 11 and seeded ninth for the event, had to be patient against the talented teenager from Denmark, Holger Rune.
Norrie lost his serve to drop 4-2 behind in the opening set but instantly broke back to take the momentum away from his 19-year-old opponent.
Neither could earn another break point and Norrie clinched the tie-break when Rune ended a tense rally by hitting long.
Frustration spilled over for the Dane as he hammered two balls out of the stadium, also clubbing the net with his racket, before going for a toilet break to calm down.
The moment of reflection helped as Rune broke in the first game of the second set and, after the pair exchanged breaks in consecutive games for 4-4 and 5-4, he ensured the match would be settled by a decider.
Again, there were consecutive breaks of serve midway through the set before Norrie secured victory when Rune produced a double fault on the second match point after two-hours and 32-minutes of play.
Looking to his second-round match against his Davis Cup team-mate Norrie, Murray said: “He is very different to how Stan plays, being a lefty.
“Flat on the backhand, heavy topspin on the forehand. We have spent a little bit of time on the court together, so there won’t be many surprises out there for me.”
Other winners on opening day included 2016 champion Marin Cilic, who defeated Spain’s Jaume Munar 6-3 6-3, and American John Isner, the 2013 finalist, who advanced past France’s Benjamin Bonzi 7-6(11) 3-6 7- 6(4).
Italy’s 12th seeded Matteo Berrettini, the 2021 Wimbledon finalist, lost his second straight match as his return to hardcourt continues to stall as he was beaten by America’s Frances Tiafoe 7-6(3) 4-6 7-6(5).