Gijon | Murray gets off to good start

Andy Murray has returned to action following a recent illness which kept him out of the last week’s Astana Open, to defeat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and reach the second round of the Gijon Open in North-Western Spain.

It’s not easy because the young guys are moving unbelievably well and they’re hitting the ball harder and harder all the time,” he said So it’s difficult to keep up, but I still enjoy it Andy Murray

Following a slow start, the 35-year-old Scot and former world No.1 beat the sixth seeded 23-year-old Spaniard, who is world ranked 31 and 17 places above the Brit, 7-5 6-2.

Murray playing courtesy of a wildcard, then remarked that it wasn’t easy playing the younger generation.

“It’s not easy because the young guys are moving unbelievably well and they’re hitting the ball harder and harder all the time,” he said

“So it’s difficult to keep up, but I still enjoy it.”

Murray, who last played at the Laver Cup in London last month, is well known for his slow starts and on this occasion, dropped serve in the opening game and had to save break points in two of his next three service games to stay in touch, much to the frustration of his opponent.

He got himself back on serve in the eighth game and having gained some momentum, repeated the exercise in the 12th game to pocket the opening set.

Murray then kept up the pressure in the second, pulling ahead early and basically galloping over the finish line where he awaits either Argentina’s Pedro Cachin or qualifier Alexey Vatutin.

“The first set he was playing much better than me and had a lot of chances to get the second break of serve, but I managed to stay tough in those moments,” added Murray.

“The 4-3 game, he played a bad game to give me a break and after that I started to play a little bit better. In the second set his level dropped a little bit.”

Prior to the match Murray admitted that his recent time off had been beneficial.

“After the US Open and the Laver Cup I have not played much tennis, I have only played two singles matches in the last month, so I feel fresh,” he commented.

“Last week I was quite ill and could not play in Astana, but I was able to rest for five days and get here (Gijon) early to get used to the conditions.”

There are two more first round matches to be played to complete the round of 32 in a field which is led by top seed Andrey Rublev of Moscow with the veteran Spaniards and crowd favourites Pablo Carreno Busta (2) and Roberto Bautista Agut (3) who are both very much in contention.

“There is a high level (of competition here),” Murray added. “Compared to the tournament in Italy (Florence) this week it seems to me a tougher draw. Many of the best Spanish players are also here and it is always difficult to play against them at home.”

Former US Open champion Dominic Thiem is also in the main draw and the Austrian booked his place in the second round with a solid 6-2 6-0 win over Portugal’s Joao Sousa last Monday.

He will face Marcos Giron from the United States in the second round after the American upset he eighth seed Albert Ramos Vinolas of Spain 4-6 6-4 6-2.

Thiem has struggled with injury the past year and has dropped to No 165 in the world rankings but is now very much on the rise.

“It was a great match for the first time since ages I had the feeling that the ratio between unforced errors and making the right pace, playing really aggressive, was right,” a satisfied Thiem revealed.

“Especially with the forehand, it was really good for basically the first time [since my injury to it], so I’m very happy about it.

“The way is right, the direction is right, also the way of focus and how I maintain it from the first to the last point was good and I’ll try to keep going that way.”

There were two retirements in the opening round, and both were for the benefit of Frenchmen, Constant Lestienne and Manuel Guinard.

Argentina’s Sebastian Baez, the seventh seed pulled out with the score at 7-6(5) 4-4 against Lestienne while Italy’s Fabio Fognini was losing rapidly 4-6 6-0 2-0 when he decided to call it quits. Both were presumably suffering from injuries which haven’t been made public.

Meanwhile in Florence, Italy, at the Unicredit Firenze Open, there have been no notable results as the opening round, with one match to go, is reaching completion.

Leading the field there is Canadas Felix Auger Aliassime and Italians Matteo Berrettini and Lorenzo Musetti plus Maxime Cressy of the US.


Dominic Thiem in first round action at Gijon

Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images




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