Murray battles back to win five-set thriller at US Open

By: AFP      Published: 02:43 AM, 2 Sep, 2020
Murray battles back to win five-set thriller at US Open

Andy Murray showed the fighting qualities that he was renowned for in his prime to come from two sets down to progress to round two of the US Open Tuesday.

Playing in his first singles Grand Slam in 18 months because of injury and the coronavirus pandemic, Murray dug deep to prevail in a 4hr 39min bruiser against Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka, winning 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/4), 6-4.

The Japanese left-hander took the first set 6-4 before racing to a 4-0 lead in the second as Murray made numerous unforced errors and double faults, highlighting his lack of match practice in 2020. 

Murray began to find some form in the second set, winning three games in a row to drag the score back to 4-3 but it was too little too late as Nishioka won 6-4 again to take a two-set lead.

Murray's Grand Slam comeback looked to be heading for disaster when he went 3-1 down in the third set, appearing all-but-certain to be heading for a straight-sets defeat.

But showing signs of the grit and determination that led him to three Grand Slam wins during his peak, Murray fought back to lead 5-4, eventually winning it on a tie-break 7-6 (7/5). 

By now Murray was playing more aggressively, forcing Nishioka onto the back foot and into errors of his own.

The Scot's fist pumps became more pronounced and his cries of "Come on!" more audible in an spectator-free Arthur Ashe Stadium as he took the fourth set, also on a tie-break 7-6 (7/4).

The first four games of set four went to serve until a Murray double fault put him a break down.

Murray immediately broke back though, a delicate back-handed lob from deep making the score 3-3.

Three games held to serve made it 5-4 to Murray before the Scot broke for game, set, match for a 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 win after four hours and 39 minutes. 

Murray, the 2012 US Open champion, was competing in a Grand Slam singles match for the first time since last year's Australian Open when there was lots of talk of him retiring.

The past three years of his career have been ravaged by injury and he has fallen to 115 in the ATP world rankings. 

Murray had career-saving hip surgery in 2019, his second hip operation, before suffering another setback with a pelvic injury at the Davis Cup last November.

That, combined with the coronavirus pandemic shutdown, kept him out of competition until the ATP Western and Southern Open in New York this past week, where he reached the last 16.

Murray was handed a wild card for the US Open after narrowly missing out on direct entry.

He was competing at the Flushing Meadows Slam for the first time since 2018.