Ahead Of 2021 Comeback, Murray Makes Winning Return

Andy Murray (photo: @the_LTA/Twitter)

WASHINGTON, December 21, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray needed fifth match points to beat World No. 32 Dan Evans on Sunday afternoon in the opening day of the Battle of the Brits Premier League of Tennis behind closed doors without fans at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, England. However, Murray got the job done and looked encouraging ahead of his latest comeback.

The World No. 122 Murray’s 7-6 (5), 6-4 win over the British No. 1 Evans took two hours and 32 minutes to complete and it certainly gave the Dunblane, Scotland, native an opportunity to get some competitive hard court play in before the end of the year holidays and in advance of the start of the 2021 season.

If Sunday’s match is any indication, the 33-year-old Murray looks stronger physically. He showed good agility as he moved about Court 3 at the NTC against Evans. Murray, who won 79 percent of his first-serve points, hit five aces, committed just one double fault and saved all eight break points he faced. He broke Evans once in nine tries, at the beginning of the second set, which proved to be a difference maker. Evans won 64 percent of his first-serve points, served seven aces and committed four double faults.

Murray and Evans are two of seven of the Britain’s top-eight men who are participating in the latest Battle of the Brits exhibitions. For Murray, it was his first competition since losing to Fernando Verdasco in Cologne, Germany, in October. After a day off, Murray will face British No. 3 Cameron Norrie on Tuesday.

Against Evans, Murray saved six break points en route to winning the first set in one hour and 24 minutes. Although Evans saved a match point in the ninth game of the second set and went on to hold for 4-5, Murray persevered in the following game on his serve. Murray finally closed out the 14-point final game on an unreturned serve.

Other first-day winners included Liam Broady, Heather Watson and Emma Radacanu.

Battle of the Brits Sunday results

Battle of the Brits Monday schedule

2021 season: Let the tournaments begin

Now that the start of the 2021 ATP Tour and WTA tennis seasons are coming into clearer focus, Tennis.com‘s Steve Tignor and Joel Drucker took some time to go over the new 2021 schedules as well as to give thanks to Melbourne for coming to the sport’s rescue.

Roger Federer: On admiration for Swiss athletes and more

In an interview this week for Swiss publication Schweizer Illustrierte, Roger Federer revealed his admiration for Swiss Olympic athletes like Pirmin Zurbriggen, spoke about taking piano lessons and playing tennis with his children.

Benoit Paire: ‘I get a rush from attempting crazy shots’

In “The Paire Minimum,” an essay which appears in Racquet magazine, French tennis star Benoit Paire reveals that “Tennis was always a game to me. It just so happened that it became my career.” Paire’s musings form the forward to French tennis writer Quentin Moynet’s book ‘Out! Wild and Nutty Stories: Tennis as You’ve Never Read,’ published in French last September.

As Paire writes: “But if I’m playing tennis, it’s first off to have fun on the court, and for the people who come to watch me to enjoy themselves. My game is ideal for this. I get a rush from attempting crazy shots and from seeing the spectators’ reactions. Sure, when you screw up completely, you look like a jerk. But when it works, it’s amazing. When I’m at practice, I try all sorts of shorts. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. I would be bored during some sessions, but as soon as I managed an improbable trick, then my smile would come back I sensed that this was a special skill of mine.”

What they’re saying

“We have a commitment from every player in the world to be in Australia. Obviously, it being start of the season anything can happen with that entry list, but the commitment … Every player, including Roger, have committed.” 

Craig Tiley, Tennis Australia chief executive and Australian Open tournament director.

What they’re writing

Tumaini Carayol, tennis correspondent for The Guardian and The Observer of London, has written an insightful article about recently-retired German tennis player Julia Goerges. As Carayol notes: “One consequence of this terrible year is that older athletes have had to decide whether to retire earlier than intended or stick around for another year. I spoke with Julie Goerges, who realized through lockdown that she didn’t actually need tennis anymore.”

What they’re sharing on social media

Bianca Andreescu / Tennis to me is unifying