Andy Murray’s latest comeback at an exhibition in Abu Dhabi, provides the hope that this may be the one which sees him start realising his dream of returning to the top echelons of the game.
It’s a good start Andy Murray
In the absence of Dominic Thiem, who pulled out as he felt he wasn’t fit enough following a long wrist injury time-out, Murray defeated fellow Brit Dan Evans who was called in to replace the Austrian.
Murray, a former world No.1 and three-time grand slam champion, looked sharp and moved well as he won through to play Rafa Nadal next, 6-3 6-2.
Evans was obviously not at his best having arrived at short notice while he was concentrating his attention on the forthcoming season rather than the Mubadala World Tennis Championships!
Despite that, the victory will be a confidence booster for Murray having just switched coaches, dropping the long serving Jamie Delgado and replaced him with the German, Jan de Witt.
Murray said in his on-court interview following his victory: “We practise a lot together so we know each other’s games well. We always play a lot of long points, long rallies. Dan’s got skills that very few players on the tour have.
“It’s a good start.”
The pair have never met in a competitive match though Murray won a tight contest at last year’s Battle of the Brits event.
“He played well,” said Evans. “It wasn’t much fun for me. I did some things well. Not enough. But it was really good to get the chance to be out here in front of a great crowd.”
Nadal, who is also returning to the Tour after a long lay-off with a foot injury, will no doubt provide tougher opposition when they meet on Friday, a prospect the Scot is looking forward to.
“I didn’t know whether I was going to get the opportunity to play matches like that again,” Murray said. “Rafa’s someone that I’ve had some great battles with at some of the biggest tournaments in the world. It’ll be great. Hopefully we can put on a great performance.”
Earlier in the day, Denis Shapovalov defeated Tylor Fritz 6-3 6-0 in just 55-minutes to progress to a meeting with Andrey Rublev for a place in the final. Taylor in turn will play Evans in a fifth-place play-off.