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Murray beats Nakajima in ATP Washington opener | The Express Tribune


WASHINGTON:

Andy Murray held firm in a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over Brandon Nakashima in the ATP hardcourt tournament in Washington on Wednesday, the British great’s first match since an epic second-round exit at Wimbledon.

The 36-year-old Scot, ranked 44th in the world, saved all six break points he faced against the 70th-ranked American to reach the third round.

That included one in the final game, when a double fault left Murray down 30-40.

He responded with a deft, angled forehand drop shot to end a long rally and followed up with a service winner before closing out the contest with a booming forehand winner.

“It got really tense toward the end,” Murray said, thanking a vocal crowd for their support. “The adrenaline, butterflies, nerves, that makes you feel alive. I still enjoy that.”

Three-time Grand Slam champion Murray admitted last month he didn’t know if he’d be back at Wimbledon again after falling in five sets to world number five Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round.

He hasn’t made the second week of a Grand Slam since reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in 2017 as two hip surgeries threatened to end his career.

His first match win in Washington since 2018 showed he’s still relishing the fight.

He trailed 5-2 in the first-set tiebreaker, winning five straight points to claim the set.

He broke Nakashima to open the second set and held on from there.

“The courts and the balls are extremely slow here, so you’re having to work really hard in all of the games, it’s not easy to finish points,” Murray said. “It was a good one to get through.”

Murray, who had a first-round bye, next faces top-seeded Taylor Fritz or fellow American Zachary Svajda.

In other matches Wednesday, Japan’s Yosuke Watanuki shocked third-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6 (12/10), 7-6 (7/3) and 11th-seeded Wimbledon quarter-finalist Christopher Eubanks beat Japan’s Sho Shimabukuro 6-3, 6-4.

At 12th in the world, Auger-Aliassime is the highest-ranked player the 99th-ranked Watanuki has beaten.



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