By Ros Satar

  • Andy Murray [PR] def. Tennys Sandgren 6-3 6-7(6) 6-1
  • Murray faces Alex De Minaur in the second round
ZHUHAI, CHINA – Andy Murray scored his first tour-level win since hip-surgery at the start of the year and goes on to face Alex De Minaur.

 

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Andy Murray [PR] def. Tennys Sandgren 6-3 6-7(6) 6-1

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For the second time this season, former World No. 1 and three-time Slam champion Andy Murray faced Tennys Sandgren, having been edged out of two tight sets against the divisive American. The Brit’s only wins this season came in the Mallorca Challenger during the US Open, where he picked up two wins before losing in the third round.

From the start of the match, Murray was looking to b the aggressor, although Sandgren’s movement and abilities to get balls back made it a gruelling match for both in the oppressive humidity in China. Murray struck first with a break and kept hold of the advantage to take the first set.

The second set was very competitive with no break point chances to be had, and up until the tie-break. Murray quickly regained a lost mini-break back and even had match point, but Sandgren fought back to turn the tables, grabbing the second set.

However the American looked to be troubled with his foot, requiring a lot of re-strapping, and that proved to be hs undoing, as Murray started to open up the court a lot more, making him run left and right, and every slide saw Sandgren pull up looking uncomfortable. The key was a mammoth game almost lasting 20 minutes with 13 deuces and Sandgren saving five break points before finally succumbing on the sixth, to hand Murray a double break.

At 5-0 for Murray it was all but over, but Sandgren still had some resistance left, saving another two match points and getting himself on the board. Ultimately though it was too no avail as Murray served out his first tour-level win since the beginning of the season in Brisbane.

As reported in ATPTour.com, Murray said: “I think that in some ways that it’s one of the best wins that I’ve had, not in terms of just getting through that today, but everything that’s gone into getting back to this point. You don’t necessarily appreciate what it’s like to be healthy at the beginning of your career. It’s something that you take for granted and it’s quite easy, whereas these past few years haven’t been.

“Obviously after the operation in January it’s been difficult and it was undecided at times about whether I wanted to keep going or not and it’s been tough. But I’m really glad that I can actually get the win today and hopefully I’ll be able to keep going.”

 

READ MORE: Murray: I’m not expecting to get to my best

 

Murray continued: “If I played that match [against Sandgren] in January, there’s no chance I could compete the following day or even two days later, I would be in a lot of pain and discomfort. Now I’m tired and fatigued and muscles and stuff are tired from playing the match. But in terms of how my hip feels, that feels really good,” Murray said. “So that’s very positive and I’m satisfied with that because, in January, I didn’t, I couldn’t remember what it was like to play tennis and not have the pain in my hip.”

 

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Murray v Alex De Minaur [7] | First Meeting (first match walkover)

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Murray was actually expected to face Aussie Alex De Minaur, seeded seventh here, in Washington after the epic match he played to reach the quarter-final that finished in the early hours of the morning, and left him sobbing for several minutes into his towel. Murray actually had to hand the Aussie the walkover as a result.

De Minaur’s breakout year came last year where he reached the semi-finals in Brisbane and then made the final in Sydney and set the Aussie hearts fluttering with the hopes of perhaps a less controversial start in the making, given their recent media woes with Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios.

He went one better in Sydney this year, winning his maiden title there, and won Atlanta later in the year, so his star is definitely on the rise. He plays an aggressive game, so again Murray will expect balls to be coming back to him with pace, and De Minaur has the ability to move his opponents around, coupled with a capable serve.

While he does have a decent back hand down the line, he can be drawn into errors it he tries to go across court.

What impressed with Murray yesterday was his movement and a little more sharpness in match-court decisions, but he will have to prepare himself for a lot more running, and this will be a real test not only for his hip and overall stamina, as he continues working on recovery, but also a good mental test against a younger player with a good attitude on the court.

Prediction: Murray in three sets.

Murray and De Minaur are scheduled on Centre Court, not before 7:30pm (12:30 BST).

 

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