Murray Marches On In D.C., Earns Biggest Win Of Comeback
That long strange number next to Andy Murray's name, No. 832? Don't worry about it. If he plays like he did on Wednesday against No. 18 Kyle Edmund, the three-time Grand Slam champion will have only a double-digit ranking – if not smaller – in the very near future.
Murray gained the biggest win of his comeback, ousting friend and countryman Edmund 7-6(4), 1-6, 6-4 at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. Murray advanced to the third round of the ATP World Tour 500-level event, and will be the favourite to reach his first quarter-final in more than a year. Murray will next meet Romanian Marius Copil, who beat 14th seed Jeremy Chardy of France 6-4, 6-4.
“It was much better, just in terms of the way I actually played the match. In the first match I basically spent the whole match defending, I was playing quite far behind the baseline. And that's not really how I want to be playing moving forward,” Murray said.
“Spoke at good length with my coach about that. Today, regardless of the result, we wanted to at least be dictating more points, trying to use my forehand, be closer to the baseline. I think I did that, especially in some of the important moments in the third set... I was being more offensive. I was a lot happier with the way I approached the match today.”
The former World No. 1 will appreciate the chance to play for a quarter-final, but more than anything, his win in Washington shows how far he's come, and quickly. On 27 June, Murray failed to take a set off Edmund at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne, falling 6-4, 6-4 in only his third match back.
The Scot decided to skip Wimbledon, saying his body wasn't ready to undergo any five-set exams. It has looked like the right decision in D.C.
Murray held off American Mackenzie McDonald, who was fresh off a fourth-round run at Wimbledon, in his opener, and he showed glimpses of his best against Edmund, defending well but also dictating against the 23-year-old armed with a massive forehand.
The two traded breaks to finish the first set but Murray pulled away as Edmund seemed to tighten up. Edmund framed a forehand at 4/5 before Murray slapped a backhand winner off a meager second serve.
Edmund, though, rebounded from the start in the second, hitting his own return winner off a Murray second serve to break for 3-1. The top Brit saw plenty of forehands and evened the match.
Murray had led their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-1 before Wednesday, and you have to think the Scot was playing with nothing to lose, this only his fifth match since undergoing hip surgery on 8 January. Indeed, Edmund seemed to feel the pressure, double faulting at 4-5, 30/30 before Murray again teed off on a second serve to advance.
“I gave my best of what I had on the day today. Just didn't work out. Would have been nice to hold serve and maybe even control what I can and take [the third set] to a tie-break but it didn't happen,” Edmund said.