It appeared, late into the night on Monday at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., and after a long day of waiting, that Andy Murray’s return to action was going to be dealt a setback.
Down a set to young American Mackenzie McDonald, his groundstrokes short and his fuse even shorter, the former world No. 1 appeared on his way out.
But somehow, through a nervy second set and through six blown match points at the very end, Murray closed it out at 12:47 a.m.
On Wednesday, facing the current British No. 1 and No. 4 seed Kyle Edmund in the second round, he had to rise to another big challenge.
It was one he had already dealt with in his first, brief attempt at a return at Queen’s Club in June. In the second round there, Edmund had posted his first victory over Murray after two losses.
This time, Murray showed his quality in a 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-4 win over the world No. 18.
And now, it gets interesting.
He faces unseeded Marius Copil of Romania in the third round, after Copil upset No. 14 seed Jérémy Chardy of France in straight sets.
Already, Murray’s ranking has zoomed from its current No. 838 to an unofficial No. 511 with the victory. A win over Copil, and he’ll be about No. 375.
That number doesn’t matter, of course. Murray already has a wild card into next week’s Rogers Cup in Toronto. And he’s likely to get wild cards wherever he needs them, on his path back to the top after hip surgery in January.
I’ve missed that roar. ❤️ https://t.co/kqDVBP1uaW
— judy murray (@JudyMurray) July 31, 2018
Marked difference in presence
The thing about Edmund, as good as he is, is that he almost leaves no imprint upon the matches he plays. That’s not a knock, more an acknowledgement of the fact that he’s just a very quiet man who goes about his business, without a lot of flash or dash.
Kyle Edmund had tonsillitis after Wimbledon, said he didn’t pick up a racket for two weeks. #CitiOpen
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 2, 2018
On Wednesday, Edmund was sort of the canvas, while Murray chucked cans of paint at it to create a colourful piece of art.
Murray was at his chuntering … best … Worst?
It’s an acquired taste, although it’s always fun to use the word “chuntering” (In Murray’s native land, they use “channer”).
The constant grumbling is classic Murray. For whatever reason, he doesn’t get a lot of stick about how he celebrates his opponents’ errors. Perhaps people understand him well enough by now to have an idea of who he is, and how gracious he is in both wins and losses.
The brutally hot weather got a few people on Wednesday.
But these two did their level best to push it aside.
While Murray’s movement looked better than it did Monday, he’s obviously still being somewhat careful.
His serve isn’t anywhere near the velocity it was at his peak, either.
And it’s hard to tell if he’s feeling the hip or not.
Like many tennis players, Murray looks like he can barely walk or his feet are on fire between points – only to rev up the jets when he has to run.
But Murray willed himself to win this one. Not that you needed him to tell you that he’s highly motivated to make it back. He sat, annoyed and frustrated, on the sidelines long enough to give him all the fire he needs to make this happen.
(Screenshots from TennisTV.com)