It was yet another beginning in the start-and-stop nature of the recent history of Andy Murray and his return to tennis.
Murray’s 2018 hip replacement surgery has led to a long road of small breakthroughs and high hurdles. And, despite winning the 2019 ATP 250 in Antwerp, the Scot hasn’t been anywhere near the player that won three Grand Slam titles and reached World No. 1.
Earlier this season, in March, Murray had yet another set-back. This time it was a groin injury that was his downfall and led to a three-month absence from competition.
Yet, it only feels right that he came back on the grass of the cinch Championships at the Queen’s Club in London. Grass is Murray’s best surface, where he won two of his three Major titles.
Andy Murray at the 2021 Queen’s Club Championships
And Murray got a favorable first round opponent too in Benoit Paire. Before the showdown with Murray, the Frenchman was a rancid 2-15 on the season.
The match itself was a straightforward affair, with Murray beating Paire 6-3 6-2. The Scot served very well, facing zero break points over the course of the match and attacked the second serve of Paire with authority. Paire only won 9/22 second serve points over the course of the match, which was a bad sign, especially considering that he only served at 50% first serves in.
Following the match, Murray said to his post-match interviewer, “…I love playing tennis…Obviously competing is why you put in all of the hard work. In the last few years I have not gotten to do that as much as I would have liked, so…great that I’m out here and able to compete again.”
Not a single dry eye in the place 😢
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) June 15, 2021
One can’t help but feel good for Murray, who clearly is out here for the love of the sport and to compete against the best in the world.
And he will have an opportunity to compete against a much higher level than Paire when Murray takes on No. 1 seed Matteo Berrettini in the next round.
Andy Murray vs Matteo Berrettini
Berrettini beat Stefano Travaglia 7-6(5) 7-6(4) to advance to the second round and take on Murray. Murray’s return skills, once one of the most dominant on the ATP Tour, will be put to the test against Berrettini. The Italian won 81% of his first serve points serving at 73% first serves in. In addition, Berrettini has a huge forehand and a nasty backhand slice. Murray’s defensive abilities, including whether he is able to consistently dig out those low-bouncing slices, will be put to the test.
But, regardless of the result of the match against Berrettini, this week has already been a massive success for Murray. Just getting back on the court, let alone winning, has to be an incredible feeling for the 34 year-old from Glasgow.
The news that Murray received a a main-draw wild card to Wimbledon can only leave fans encouraged that the Scot is starting to feel better and put his horrible injury behind him.
But, first thing’s first. Andy Murray will take on Matteo Berrettini tomorrow following the noon (local time) match between Dan Evans and Adrian Mannarino.
And can anyone truly count Murray out?