Andy Murray scripted an epic comeback on his return to Grand Slam tennis, fighting back from two sets and a break down to beat Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 4-6, 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4), 6-4 in the first round of US Open on Tuesday.
Playing a singles match at a major for the first since the 2019 Australian Open, Murray looked on his way out when he was two sets and 0-2 down in the third set. But the stubborn 33-year-old Brit clawed his back to flip the script.
This was Murray’s 10th comeback win from two sets down and the first since May 2016, when he beat Radek Stepanek in the first round at Roland Garros.
“I’m tired, my toes are the worst part, my big toes are pretty beat up,” said 2012 US Open champion Murray.
“At the beginning I was apprehensive about playing a long match because I’ve not played one for a while and I was sort of pacing myself. But when I was two sets down I managed to put the afterburners on and managed to get through.”
Since limping out of 2017 Wimbledon, Murray has had two hip surgeries and has struggled to return to his best. Though the three-time Grand Slam champion committed 32 unforced errors in the first two sets, his physical and mental resilience shone through as he dug deep and battled it out against Nishioka over four hours and 38 minutes in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Back with a 💥💥💥
That's one way to make your return to the #USOpen after 2 years 👏
— ATP Tour (@atptour) September 1, 2020
Not surprisingly, after the match, his priority was to find an ice-bath.
“They have one in the locker room and they said it’s for emergencies,” said Murray, who also saved a match point late in the fourth set.
“For me this is an emergency right now. My body hurts and I need to recover as best as possible. I’ll ask and see if they’ll allow me to use the ice bath here. If not, I’ll try to get back to the hotel as quickly as possible and get in one at the hotel.
“I need to rest up and try to recover the best I can because that’s by far the most tennis I’ve played since 2019, when I played (Roberto) Bautista (Agut) at the Australian Open. I need to recover well.”
Murray will face young gun Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second round.
Mixed day for Williams sisters
Serena Williams began her charge towards a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title by getting past fellow American Kristie Ahn 7-5, 6-3.
The 38-year-old, bidding for her first major title since 2017 and to equal Margaret Court’s overall record, lacked rhythm and showed nerves but still proved too good for Ahn. She will take on Margarita Gasparyan of Russia next.
Meanwhile, an error-prone Venus Williams went down 3-6, 5-7 to 20th seed Karolina Muchova. This was the 40-year-old former champion’s first opening round loss at the US Open.
Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova surrendered the opening set to three-time US Open champion Kim Clijsters but rallied to beat the Belgian 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Men’s first round
Andy Murray d Yoshihito Nishioka 4-6, 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4), 6-4
3-Daniil Medvedev d Federico Delbonis 6-1, 6-2, 6-4
2-Dominic Thiem d Jaume Munar 7-6 (6), 6-3 (retd)
6-Matteo Berrettini d Go Soeda 7-6 (5), 6-1, 6-4
14-Grigor Dimitrov d Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-3, 6-1
10-Andrey Rublev d Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-4, 6-3
11-Karen Khachanov d Jannik Sinner 3-6, 6-7(7), 6-2, 6-0, 7-6(4)
31-Marin Cilic d Denis Kudla 6-7 (3), 3-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-3
Women’s first round
20-Karolina Muchova d Venus Williams 6-3, 7-5
3-Serena Williams d Kristie Ahn 7-5, 6-3
10-Garbine Muguruza d Nao Hibino 6-4, 6-4
2-Sofia Kenin d Yanina Wickmayer 6-2, 6-2
21-Ekaterina Alexandrova d Kim Clijsters 3-6, 7-5, 6-1
26-Sloane Stephens d Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-3, 6-3
9-Johanna Konta d Heather Watson 7-6(7), 6-1