US Open 2018: Andy Murray marks Grand Slam return with hard-fought win; Stan Wawrinka eases past Grigor Dimitrov

New York: Former World No 1 Andy Murray marked his first Grand Slam tournament in 14 months with a 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 win over Australia's James Duckworth at the US Open on Monday.

Murray, the 2012 champion in New York and playing just his fifth tournament of the year after undergoing hip surgery in January, last featured in a major at Wimbledon in 2017.

Andy Murray, of Great Britain, reacts during his match against James Duckworth, of Australia, during the first round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

Andy Murray beat James Duckworth to make it to the second round. AP/Andres Kudacki

Murray, whose world ranking has slumped to 382, goes on to face Fernando Verdasco, the Spanish 31st seed after seeing off the error-prone Duckworth, ranked at 448.

"He was serving big in the first set and the ball was flying around," said 31-year-old Murray who only returned to the tour in June.

"But I started to get into the return games, stood back a little more and that gave me more time to get in the rallies and find my range with my groundstrokes."

At 3hr and 17mins on the new Louis Armstrong Stadium, it was Murray's longest match since his comeback in a reassuring indication of his fitness.

Like Murray, former champion Stan Wawrinka also sat out the 2017 US Open — in his case because of two knee surgeries.

But he showed no sign of rustiness on Monday, defeating eighth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria for the second successive Grand Slam.

Wawrinka, the 2016 champion, swept to a 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 victory on Arthur Ashe Stadium to repeat his opening round triumph over Dimitrov at Wimbledon.

"The last time I played on this great court, I won the title so it was great to be able to come back and play again," said the 33-year-old Swiss.

Wawrinka, the former World No 3, now down at 101, shrugged off having to take a medical time-out early in the third set.

"It was very humid and I felt something. I am just coming back from injury so you never know how your body will react."

South African fifth seed Kevin Anderson, the 2017 US Open runner-up to Rafael Nadal, also needed a medical timeout for a leg injury in the third set of his clash with Ryan Harrison of the United States.

But Anderson, defeated in the Wimbledon final last month by Novak Djokovic, recovered to win 7-6 (4), 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Denis Shapovalov, the 19-year-old 28th seed, was 7-5, 5-7, 4-1 ahead of 18-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime when his Canadian teammate and close friend was forced to retire.

Auger-Aliassime, making his Slam debut after coming through qualifying, had needed a medical timeout for an irregular heartbeat in the third set.

"I told him at the net, look we're going to be back here, we're going to be playing in the finals," said Shapovalov of his words to a tearful Auger-Aliassime.

Greek 15th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas saw off 36-year-old Tommy Robredo of Spain 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-4.

Tsitsipas, 20, made the Toronto Masters final this month seeing off the likes of Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev on the way before losing to Rafael Nadal.

The Greek was only three years old when Robredo played his first US Open in 2001.

Murray's successor as British number one Kyle Edmund, seeded 16, slumped to a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-1 loss to Paolo Lorenzi, the 36-year-old Italian, who hadn't played on a hard court since the Australian Open in January.

US hopes were buoyed by wins for 11th seed John Isner and 18th-ranked Jack Sock who won his first singles match since May.

Later Monday, World No 1 Nadal began the defence of his title in what promised to be an emotional clash against close friend David Ferrer who is playing in his last Slam before retirement.

Former world number three Ferrer, who now stands at a lowly 148, beat Nadal when they met in New York in 2007.

But top seed Nadal boasts a 24-6 career stranglehold over Ferrer, including five years ago in the French Open final, the veteran's only run to a Slam final.

While three-time champion Nadal and Ferrer close proceedings on Arthur Ashe Stadium, world number three and 2009 winner Juan Martin del Potro brings the first day on the new Louis Armstrong Stadium to a conclusion.

The towering Argentine takes on American qualifier Donald Young, the world 246.


Updated Date: Aug 28, 2018 08:25 AM

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