2020 US OPEN…2020 US OPEN…
Andy Murray said his winning return to Grand Slam competition was “emotional” as he proved his physical fitness matched his mental strength by fighting back from two sets down at the US Open on Tuesday night.
He beat Yoshihito Nishioka 4-6 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in the first round in his first singles match at a major since January 2019 after hip surgery.
“Right now I just feel tired,” the 33-year-old Briton told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“I didn’t even know how my hip was going to hold up for a five-set match.”
Injuries meant the former world number one was playing in the US Open for only the second time in four years.
After losing the opening two sets on Tuesday, he trailed 3-1 and was a break down in the third, before he won two tie-breaks and then broke the 24-year-old Japanese world number 49 late in the deciding set in a match that lasted four hours 39 minutes.
“When I saw the messages from friends and family, it was emotional,” added the Scot, who will play Canada’s 15th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in Thursday’s second round.
“The fact I got through a five-set match is brilliant and another tick for the metal hip. I don’t want to play too many more of them but it’s good to know it can last.
“I was very close to going out but kept coming back, kept fighting so I’m proud of that. The biggest question would’ve been the physical one and that was the thing I was most happy with – that I lasted.”
Murray’s match – his first in the singles at a Grand Slam since losing in five sets to Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut at the Australian Open in January 2019 – was played on Arthur Ashe Stadium with no fans present because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The stadium – the biggest tennis arena in the world – is hosting many of the world’s top players, who are using corporate boxes overlooking the court.
As a result, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev were among the interested onlookers along with fellow Briton Kyle Edmund and Murray’s brother Jamie.
“Everyone you look up at is a coach or a top player,” said Murray. “By the end of the match there were a lot of players who came to watch.
“It’s a little odd playing in front of lots of top players because it’s very rarely the case. Usually it’s just the fans and the players are watching on TV. It certainly created more of an atmosphere than there was at the beginning.”
Meanwhile, men’s second seed Dominic Thiem advanced, having been leading 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 when Spanish opponent Jaume Munar retired from the match.
Thiem, 26, will face Indian world number 124 Sumit Nagal in the second round as he looks to capitalise on the absence of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to win a maiden Grand Slam title.
Russian third seed Daniil Medvedev is also through to the second round, comfortably beating Argentine Federico Delbonis 6-1 6-2 6-4. He will play Australia’s Chris O’Connell next.