Murray’s Fighting Spirit On Display In His Much-Anticipated Return

Andy Murray (photo: Citi Open)

WASHINGTON, July 31, 2018 (by Michael Dickens)

The reaction on Andy Murray‘s face when he secured match point in his seventh try against Mackenzie McDonald in the early hours of Tuesday morning at the Citi Open spoke volumes. His fighting spirit was plainly evident for all to see.

The three-time Grand Slam champion and former World No. 1 from Scotland clinched his right fist and screamed out a big “Yeah” twice as he soaked in the moment to much applause from the fans who braved a lengthy five hour-plus rain delay at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center in Washington, D.C., on Monday night to see Murray make his much-anticipated return to the ATP World Tour. The 31-year-old Murray faced an eager challenger in the 80th-ranked McDonald, 23, a former American collegiate champion who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon earlier this month.

After two hours and 37 minutes, Murray prevailed 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 to advance to the second round against fourth-seeded Kyle Edmund.

“It was a tough, tough match,” Murray was quoted as saying on the ATP website. “It could have gone either way. Obviously if you lose a match like that, it’s a tough one. When I lost to (Teymuraz) Gabashvili here (in 2015), I lost serving for the match, so I was thinking about that a little bit, too. It is just nice to get through.”

It was the first time Murray had won a match this year after losing the first set.

“I wasn’t dictating many of the points.  I wasn’t hitting the ball that cleanly. I just fought and tried to make it tough for him. Made a few little adjustments here and there. But mentally, it was a big one to get through.”

Murray didn’t seem to show any ill effects from the hip surgery he underwent earlier this year. His experience and mental fortitude carried him through a tough three-setter in his return.

The victory was Murray’s first hard court win since last year’s BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Following the 2017 Wimbledon Championships, Murray was sidelined for 11 months with a hip injury that required surgery before attempting a comeback last month at the Fever-Tree Championships. With his world ranking dropped to No. 832, Murray showed room for improvement against McDonald, but one thing that hasn’t disappeared besides most of his ranking points is his competitive desire to do well.

“I want to stay healthy through the end of the year,” said Murray prior to his first-round match. “I think if I do that, I’ll start to win more matches, and my ranking will move up.”

After improving his win-loss record to 2-2 with his first-round win, Murray’s provisional ranking moved up 254 places to No. 578.

News and noteworthy

Monday’s lengthy rain delay forced postponement of several scheduled matches, including the second Stadium night match featuring three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka against Donald Young. It was called at 1 a.m. because of rain and added to an ever-growing Tuesday schedule.

Just six men’s and five women’s singles matches were completed on Day One of the Citi Open. Besides Murray, also advancing to the men’s second round were: Malek Jaziri, Tim Smyczek, Hebert Hurkacz, Marius Copil and Noah Rubin. Women’s winners on Monday were: Andrea Petkovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Allie Kiick, Katie Boulter and Fanny Stoller.