Cincinnati Tennis in New York: Wild Card Andy Murray Wins First Official Match of 2020
(August 22, 2020) Andy Murray won his first official match of the year on Saturday, when he defeated fellow wild card, American Frances Tiafoe 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-1 in the first round of the Western and Southern Open. The Western & Southern Open, normally played in the Cincinnati suburb of Mason, Ohio moved to the site of the US Open in Flushing Meadows, Queens due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Murray underwent a second hip surgery back in January.
“A lot of weeks I have been hitting like three days a week for like an hour and a half, and all of the focus is on rehab and getting my hip as strong as possible in every position,” said the two-time Cincinnati Maters winner.
“My goal was to come in and my hip be feeling good. That is what I wanted.
“So I don’t mind how much tennis I get to play. I know that will come with time and the more practice and the more matches I get. But my concern for me was my hip not being right, and I wanted to get that, like I said, as strong as possible to compete again.”
“Physically, I thought I did pretty well,” Murray said. “I moved maybe better than what I expected to. The first few matches back when I started playing singles last year, you know, I moved way worse than I did today, so that was positive.
The Scotsman, ranked 129 in the world, won in a little under 2 and a half hours to reach the second round, where he’ll face a big test against No. 5 seed Alexander Zverev.
“He’s obviously been up at the top of the game for a number of years now,” the 33-year-old said to media.
“It will be a good test for me, for sure. You know, he’s played well in the Masters Series, maybe in the slams not played as well I know for the last few years. But Masters Series he definitely played well.
“You know, he moves well for a big guy, solid off the ground. Has struggled at times with his serve. You know, when he’s serving well he’s obviously one of the top players in the world.”
The upsets on the day came on the women’s side of the draw as Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova stopped ninth seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan 7-5, 7-6(6) in a rematch of the Shenzhen final in January.
“It’s not about the shots,” said Rybakina. “I was hitting the ball good. I was feeling it also good, and now in practice here. So I think it’s in the head.”
The 15th seed Donna Vekic of Croatia fell 6-2 6-3 to former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, currently ranked 59th in the world.
“I’m very happy honestly to win a match. It’s been like a year or so,” noted the two-time Australian Open champion. “I haven’t played a lot, but it’s still like finally to get over that mid-hump a little bit and to be able to close out the match and stay strong throughout the match was super important to me.”
No. 13 seed Maria Sakkari dominated 16-year-old American Coco Gauff 6-1, 6-3 in 65 minutes.
“I think I really played a good match. I played a match in Palermo, but for me, it doesn’t count.”
She elaborated on Palermo: “I mean, obviously like Palermo was just a trial-like tournament, just to see how it feels to play after a long time. But the thing that really made me feel bad that day was time that we started playing. That’s two hours past my bedtime, so I was struggling a lot with energy and stuff”
“I think my serve was one thing that really worked well today and gave me a lot of, you know, cheap points, if I can call them like that,” said the woman from Greece.
“Definitely today was not my best match,” Gauff said. “I could have played better.” Gauff had 24 unforced errors during the match, with only 6 winners.
“She came out strong, hitting her shots. I didn’t really have good responses to those. I’m just going to use this match to kind of prepare for the US Open. I have a whole week before that, and I’m going to take what I did today and learn from it.”
Sakkari had praise for her opponent: “I think one thing that I like about her that not many girls have is that she’s quick, and maybe I like that because I’m also quick. We are not many on tour. But of course she’s really young and she has many good things already in her game, and I’m sure that she’s going to — she has a lot of room for improvement on a good way, so that’s going to take her on a very high level.
“But, you know, having the right tactic with any player, you know, gives you the best result. I think that was the key.”
Venus Williams, 40, took Dayana Yastremska to a third set, but lost to the 16th seed 5-7, 6-2, 7-5.
“I’m very happy that I won and same time very sad because I had really good opportunity the first set,” said Yastremska. But when I twisted my ankle, to be honest, my mind completely went the other way. I started to think just about the pain, how I twisted, and what is going to be next. So, you know, I didn’t even play like the end of the first set.”
“And after that, you know, I took the medicine timeout, and I really tried to be focused on the game. You know, I really wanted to withdraw after the first game when I lost, but after that, the second game when I was serving, I told to myself that I’m not going to withdraw, that I’m going to play to the end. It doesn’t matter how it’s going to finish, but I have to finish that match. I really have to deal with the pain.
“And of course I didn’t really feel my leg, because it was taped, but I felt the pain like from inside. So it wasn’t really easy.”
“It was a good match,” said Williams. “First round is always, you know, the challenge, trying to get your rhythm. She played well. Just was a little better in the end on the points.”
The last match on The Grandstand Court, serving as the Center court for the Western & Southern Open saw young Canadian Denis Shapovalov dismantle former US Open champion Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-3. The Canadian hit 26 winners against the Croatian.
“I don’t think I could have played much better,” noted the 12th seed. “It was a really tough draw to play Marin first round. He’s such an amazing player, and he’s proven that time and time again.
“So it was definitely not easy for both of us out there. So I’m really happy to get a win against him and start back really strong.”