Andy Murray, a former finalist (2006) at the Mubadala City DC Open, booked his place in third round of the ATP Tour 500 event in Washington with a typical battling performance to the home favourite, ousting Brandon Nakashima, 7-6(5) 6-4.
It’s going to be a tough match against Andy, who is such an amazing competitor. The conditions are really, really slow so that will help him in the match a little bit. Taylor Fritz
He delighted the crowds with his play as he wiped out the memory of his last performance there when he had to withdraw just prior to his quarter final match with Alex de Minaur five years ago.
This year’s encounter with Nakashima was a close affair with not much between the pair in the early stages but once Murray found his rhythm in the fifth game, it was evident the Brit, seeded 15 and playing his first match of the week, was taking control. Earlier in the week, Nakashima had to battle past Aussie Aleksander Vukic7-6(5) 7-6(9) to reach round two.
And like in his first match, Nakashima hung on to force his third tie-break of the week but on this occasion, it went the way of his opponent despite him holding a 5-2 advantage when Murray stormed back to claim five consecutive points and take a one-set lead after 72-minues.
Murray followed that up with an early break in the opening game of the second with a powerful backhand only to find himself on the backfoot defending his own serve as Nakashima created five break points in his next two service games as he attempted to regain parity.
He eventually did get back on serve and with the score at 5-4, came to withing a point of making it 5-all but Murray was not to be denied and marched into the last 16 dug for his first win in the tournament since 2018.
Next up for Murray is the top seeded Taylor Fritz who comfortably opened his own campaign with a 6-3 6-3 dismissal of his American compatriot, qualifier Zachery Svajda.
Looking ahead to his meeting with the British three-time grand slam champion, Fritz said: “It’s going to be a tough match against Andy, who is such an amazing competitor. The conditions are really, really slow so that will help him in the match a little bit.”
British No.2 Dan Evans, seeded 9 for the week, was also in action on a nearby court and recovered from dropping the first set to roar back to defeat Frenchman Gregoire Barrere 2-6 6-0 6-3.
Just a day after teaming up with Andy Murray in the doubles which they lost to the Argentina pairing of Molteri and Gonzalez 7-6(7) 1-6 10-8, Evans lost his first service game, only to break back immediately but then couldn’t prevent his opponent from claiming the first set comfortably with two more breaks.
However, he dug deep to bring himself back into the match with some aggressive play to overwhelm the Frenchman in the second and while it was a closer contest in the decider, Evans never lost control to join Murray in the last 16 where he will face Alexander Shevchenko, the 5-7 7-6(4) 6-4 winner over eighth seed Sebastian Korda of the US.
Unfortunately, Liam Broady was unable to join them as he lost out the Dutchman, Tallon Griekspoor, the 12th seed, 6-4 6-2.
In other action there have been a series of upsets with seeds falling at various points in the draw.
Aussie Jordan Thompson toppled Adrian Mannarino of France, the seventh seed, 7-5 6-4 while American Michael Mmoh took out the fourth seeded Hubert Hurkacz 6-3 6-7(4) 7-6(4).
Also out are Alexander Bublic, the Kazak seeded six, who was beaten by the French entertainer Gael Monfils, 6-3 6-4 and Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, seeded 10, ousted by Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori 6-7 (5) 6-4 6-2.
Canada’s Felix Auger Aliassime, seeded three, continues his recent poor run of results losing out to Japan’s Yosuka Watanuki 7-6(10 7-6(3) and as reported earlier, Ben Shelton of the US, the 14th seed, suffered a 6-2 3-6 6-3 loss to the 18-year-old from China, Junchen Shang.
On the positive side the in-form Christopher Eubanks of the US, seeded 11 who has just made his way into the world’s top 30 following his remarkable run to the Wimbledon quarter finals, defeated Sho Shimabukuro 6-3 6-4,