Andy Murray is set to make yet another comeback in singles tennis. In a battle of two wild-cards, the three-time Grand Slam winner plays Frances Tiafoe in the first round of the Western and Southern Open. This will be the first ATP event in five months.
Murray, who won the US Open at the same venue in 2012, will be playing his first ATP match since November. What will help him mentally, is the fact that he converted his last ATP event into a title-winning one at the Antwerp Open.
The 33-year-old said he was feeling a bit ‘off the pace’ during practice, but he is looking forward to competing again. “It’s very different conditions, very lively, quick, very hot. I’ve been practicing with [Dominic] Thiem, [Andrey] Rublev, and [Karen] Khachanov. Those guys don’t really hold back,” Murray said in a pre-tournament interview.
“It’s a bit of a different speed to what I’ve been used to. I felt a little bit off the pace at times but I’m feeling quite good on the court physically in terms of my hip,” he added.
Andy Murray will certainly not have it easy against a tricky opponent like Tiafoe. The American youngster boasts of a strong serve and powerful forehand.
Murray is known for his defensive game and he will certainly be forced to tap into his claim to fame if he is to take on someone like Tiafoe. How Murray’s strong backhand performs against Tiafoe’s forehand will be the key factor in the match.
The Briton has had a lot of time to recover from his hip injury issues and now feels physically fit. However, his lack of experience at the top level in the last couple of years could make things tricky for him.
Tiafoe has not played since March but will fancy his chances to make a big statement against a rusty Murray. Tiafoe also took Roger Federer to five sets at the US Open in 2017.
Interestingly, this will be their first meeting on the ATP Tour.
Murray and Tiafoe will face off on the Grandstand in the first match of the event. At 129th, Murray is 48 places below Tiafoe in the ATP rankings. Alexander Zverev awaits the winner of the match in round two.
Murray also said that he expects ‘a lot of upsets’ in the tournament. It is a situation where all players are in a similar position, not having played for so long. Experience holds the key in such situations and Murray has heaps of it.
Prediction – Andy Murray to win in three sets.
Do you think Murray has what it takes to shake the racquet rust off?