On the day that the ATP Tour came back to life at Flushing Meadows following its 5-month shutdown because of coronavirus, Andy Murray made his own very welcome return to the fray with a hard-fought win over Frances Tiafoe, the home favourite,
"I'm happy with how I did here. I would have liked to have played a bit better, but physically I was good. That is the most important thing for me, because that hasn't been the case for the last 10 months Andy Murray
The pair batted it out in the heat of a New York summer and both showed signs of fatigue before Murray finally took control to finish off the American on a court empty of spectators, 7-6(6) 3-6 6-1 after two-hours and 28-minutes.
The Western and Southern event, better known as the Cincinnati Masters, is acting as a warm-up event for the US Open which starts of the 31st of August.
Murray was satisfied with his performance and hopes that his body won’t suffer any more than the usual after effects of a hard fought match.
“Physically, I thought I did pretty well,” said the former world number one and two-time Cincy champion. “I moved maybe better than I expected to.
“The first few matches back when I started playing singles last year, I moved way worse than I did here, so that was positive.
“My tennis could have been better. I thought I could have played a bit better. I guess that will come, the more matches I play.
“But I always need to see as well how I recover from a match like that too, because although I felt good during the match, things can sometimes stiffen up and hurt a bit afterwards.
“I’m happy with how I did here. I would have liked to have played a bit better, but physically I was good. That is the most important thing for me, because that hasn’t been the case for the last 10 months.”
The victory has provided Murray with a last-32 confrontation with Alexander Zverev. It will be a tougher match against the fifth-seeded German and he admits his expectations since battling injury problems, are now lower than previously as he acknowledges the road to a full recovery from his hip operation is going to be a long one.
“I would say I probably have lower expectations,” Murray added. “I know the tennis will come, but it’s also not going to come back immediately, so it’s just not to expect, straight off the bat, to be playing perfect.
“For example, the first set today, the tiebreak was bad level. It wasn’t good tennis, in my opinion. But I got through it and I didn’t get too down on myself.
“I didn’t expect to play unbelievable. But I spoke with my coach the last couple of days and he was saying to me ‘you’re good enough to win matches even when you’re not feeling good’ and to remember that sometimes. I think that’s one of the things that I need to remember.
“Obviously if you play the top players, you know you’re going to have to play a high level of tennis. But there are certain matches you can get through not playing your best, and I think I did that here.”
The first set saw the two protagonists hold serve with Murray saving a breakpoint in the11th game.
In the tiebreak, Tiafoe got the upper hand to go 5-2 up but Murray fought back to level and then snatch it 8-6, having saved a set point at 5-6.
The second set was much the same until the American captured a 5-3 lead and level at a set all in the next game.
He had the momentum going into the decider but it was immediately halted by Murray who dominatee the third proving from the opening moments and prove his reputation of never giving up was still very much instilled in his character.
Unfortunately other Brits in action didn’t do as well.
Kyle Edmund lost his battle with Kevin Anderson 7-6(3) 4-6 6-3 in a match which lasted two-minutes short of three hours.
It was the third meeting between the pair with the South African using a protected ranking to play after being side-lined by several injuries.
The first set was a see-saw affair with Edmund racing into a 2-0 lead before Anderson fought back but the Brit regained the initiative to lead 4-2 and serve for the set.
Anderson, a former US Open finalist, hit back to force a tie-break where again he trailed 3-1 only to hit six successive points to capture the first set.
It was Edmund’s turn to fight back and he did to level after breaking Anderson’s serve in the fifth game of the second set.
Anderson had to call for a physio in the deciding set when 3-2 ahead, but broke to make it 5-3 and served out the final game to reach the last 32.
The South African having pulled ahead 3-1 in his battles with Edmund, goes on to face the fourth seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round.
Meanwhile Britain’s No.3 Cameron Norrie, who came through the qualifying tournament, lost 6-3 6-4 to the 6’ 11” American Reilly Opelka