In his first match of the year, Andy Murray made a winning return to the ATP Tour with a hard-fought 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-1 victory against Frances Tiafoe at the Western & Southern Open.
Making his first appearance at an ATP Tour event since capturing his 46th tour-level trophy at the European Open in Antwerp last October, the former World No. 1 saved a set point in the first set tie-break and charged through the deciding set to book his place in the second round after two hours and 28 minutes.
Murray will face World No. 7 Alexander Zverev for a place in the third round. The three-time Grand Slam champion owns a 1-0 ATP Head2Head record against the German, following a first-round victory against Zverev at the 2016 Australian Open.
In an opening set dominated by serve, a double fault from Murray allowed Tiafoe to move into a 5/2 lead in the tie-break. After battling back into contention, Murray was forced to save a set point behind his second serve at 5/6 as Tiafoe failed to find the court with his return. Two points later, Murray fired a forehand passing shot up the line to clinch the set.
Like the first set, Tiafoe managed to create a single break-point chance in the second set. This time, he took his opportunity. After trading cross-court forehands with Murray at 4-3, Tiafoe attacked his opponent’s backhand and moved forward to break serve with a low backhand drop volley.
Tiafoe, who finished the contest with a 17/22 success rate at the net, was unable to carry any momentum into the decider as Murray raced into a 3-0 lead. The 33-year-old played with depth and capitalised on a series of errors from his opponent to gain a crucial advantage. Murray claimed a second service break at 4-1 with a backhand return winner and served out the match to love to earn his 32nd victory at the ATP Masters 1000 event.
© Peter Staples/ATP Tour