WASHINGTON (AP) Andy Murray tested his surgically repaired hip by putting aside a deficit and some real rust to win his first hard-court match in nearly 1 1/2 years, coming back for a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory at the Citi Open against 80th-ranked Mackenzie McDonald of the U.S.
The match began after 10 p.m. Monday because of a rain delay and ended at about 12:45 a.m. Tuesday.
There were stretches when Murray looked very much like exactly what he is at the moment: a guy working his back from an operation in January. Particularly when he was failing to convert any of the five match points he held while serving for the win at 5-4 in the final set. He won on his seventh, though, then let out a lengthy yell.
Murray is a former No. 1 who owns two Wimbledon trophies plus another from the U.S. Open. But he’s ranked just 832nd now, on account of so much time away. He sat out the second half of last season because of the bad hip, and then didn’t compete this year until June.
This match was only Murray’s fourth of 2018. No. 5 will come in the second round of the Citi Open against Kyle Edmund, the man who overtook him as Britain’s top-ranked man during Murray’s injury absence.
Finally getting on court at 10 p.m. after a rain delay that forced other matches to be suspended or postponed entirely until Tuesday, Murray played just fine for the opening 10 minutes under the lights, breaking for a 2-0 lead. And then his game devolved for quite a lengthy spell into a ragged display, filled with six double-faults – two in a row to get broken to 2-1 – and shots that missed the mark.
Eventually, Murray righted himself to close things after 12:30 a.m. There was still another match left to go in the main stadium, and it involved another three-time major champ: Stan Wawrinka, who faced American qualifier Donald Young.
In other matches, Noah Rubin got past Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 6-4; Tim Smyczek beat Ricardas Berankis 7-6 (4), 6-2, and Malek Jaziri defeated Evgeny Donskoy 6-4, 6-1. Rubin now faces No. 2 seed John Isner, Jaziri plays No. 1 seed and defending champion Alexander Zverev, while Smyczek meets Zverev’s older brother, No. 15 seed Mischa.
In women’s results, two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Kristie Ahn 6-2, 6-1; Katie Boulter eliminated No. 5 seed Aleksandra Krunic 6-2, 6-0; and Andrea Petkovic defeated Jamie Loeb 6-1, 6-1.
Murray dropped six of seven games to close the opening set. That was part of a stretch in which he was broken in four of five service games. When he pushed a forehand wide to lose one game, he screamed and pulled a ball from a pocket of his black shorts and spiked it.
He also did manage to show flashes of the form that carried him to three Grand Slam titles and a pair of Olympic gold medals. There was a cross-court passing winner at just the right angle. There was a full-sprint backhand flick of a lob winner. Plenty of muttering to himself between points, too.
If Murray was hoping for a chance to test his hip, well, he got that. McDonald repeatedly deployed drop shots or forced Murray to give chase from one corner to another in the nearly empty stadium. And then there was the length of the encounter: They played for more than 2 1/2 hours.
That probably mattered more than the result to Murray, a 31-year-old from Britain who pulled out of Wimbledon on July 1 because, he said at the time, it “might be a bit too soon in the recovery process” for his hip to try to compete in best-of-five-set matches.
The 23-year-old McDonald, a Californian who won singles and doubles NCAA titles for UCLA, made it to the fourth round at the All England Club this month, the first time he had made it that far at a major tournament.
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