Reem Abulleil takes a closer look at Andy Murray's first match in 11 months.
Andy Murray can take many positives from his 2-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5 defeat to Nick Kyrgios at Queens on Tuesday, which was the Brit’s first competitive match in 11 months.
A two-hour 39-minute clash against someone like Kyrgios is probably not the ideal way a player would want to make his comeback from hip surgery but Murray battled hard throughout and learnt a lot about where he is at, competition-wise, ahead of Wimbledon.
From the outside though, it’s difficult to judge Murray’s state mainly because Kyrgios was unpredictable during the match and at times playing schizophrenic tennis.
Here are things learned from Murray’s Queens opener…
MURRAY CAN MOVE
All eyes were on the Scot’s hip and he surprised us with how well he was moving in his first match back. At one point in game six, Murray ran down a drop shot off of a Kyrgios half volley and it was that sprint that eased many people’s worries.
NOT TOO RUSTY
Murray fired 39 winners against just 26 unforced errors against Kyrgios. While he landed only 56 per cent of his first serves in, he won 76 per cent of the points on those first serves and 40 per cent of the points on his second serve. He also blasted 16 winners compared to Kyrgios’ 18. He wasn’t clinical on the break points though as he converted 4/11, which is still better than Kyrgios’ 3/11. The ex-world No. 1 was 13/17 at the net.
Murray yelling at his box after missing and roaring in celebration on his winners was probably a sight for his fans’ sore eyes. The 31-year-old said he had missed tennis and is purely back on court for the love of the game. That was evident throughout. Uncharacteristically donning a colorful Under Armour shirt – which he accidentally wore the wrong way during the match – Murray deservedly received a standing ovation when he stepped on the court. It may have been a losing return but he cannot be too disappointed with how played.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH KYRGIOS?
The paradox that is Nick Kyrgios continues to baffle. The Aussie has undeniable flair and he pulled out all the stops in the first few games, hitting tweeners, unleashing 137mph second serves, doing 360s before routine overheads and embodying the entertainer he truly is.
At the coin toss, he joked with Murray, who is a good friend of his, asking: “Do you remember how to do this, Andy?”
But at the tail-end of the first set, Kyrgios suffered a bizarre dip in form and concentration, played apathetically and looked completely out of it.
He somehow started the second set with a break, but alternated between aces and double faults, and would contest entire rallies by hitting forehand slices.
It was obvious he was physically starting to struggle when we saw a hint of a limp in his movement, and he held his hip from time to time. Kyrgios had hip trouble before his more recent elbow injury and it’s possible that injury has flared up.
Despite all that, Kyrgios walked away the winner, following up on his week in Stuttgart, where he lost to Roger Federer in a third-set tiebreak in the semi-finals, with a first victory over Murray in six meetings.