August 21, 2020
Andy Murray faces a fascinating showdown with Alexander Zverev at the Western and Southern Open in New York.
The tennis world will savour every moment after Britain’s favourite sportsman announced his return to the big time.
Amazing Murray beat young American Frances Tiafoe 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 6-1 at Flushing Meadows.
After so long off the tour, the Scot’s appetite for battle is absolutely huge. And it needed to be.
Murray looked in big trouble in the breaker. First he was put off by someone moving around in the near-deserted arena just as he was about to serve.
Andy protested but his concentration had been broken and he slipped 1-3 behind.
Then Tiafoe piled on the pressure to go 5-2 ahead, as the older man appeared to struggle in the sweltering heat.
But Murray slowly clawed his way back into contention as Tiafoe tightened while requiring only two more points.
The brave Brit still needed to save a set point and did so with heavy spin on a clever kicker of a second serve.
Murray closed out the set with a forehand pass that followed a delicious trajectory.
The ball seemed to be heading wide before it curled beautifully back onto the line.
Tiafoe hit back to level the match but Murray raised his game when it mattered to produce an emphatic final set.
Andy said later. ‘I thought I moved well today, and that’s what I was worried about before the match.
‘My tennis could have been better. But I did some good things towards the end. Still, there is room for improvement.’
If Andy can find that improvement, he could pull off another wonderful surprise against the man regarded as the future of tennis.
Fifth seed Zverev versus Murray is a match the whole world wants to see.
The statuesque German has a quality game. He showed as much when he won the ATP finals in London a couple of years back.
But his form can be erratic and you are never quite sure which Zverev will show up.
Andy will look to seize upon any small weakness if Zverev doesn’t start his campaign well.
Murray had never faced Tiafoe before and he has not won a title since taking the European Open last October.
To hit the ground running in New York is an outstanding achievement at this stage of Murray’s comeback after hip surgery.
He has shown flashes brilliance already this summer – notably at the recent Battle of the Brits organised by his brother Jamie.
Andy will be pumped if he can produce a quality performance in New York against Zverev too.
Slowly he will build towards Wimbledon 2021, with a burning desire to show similar excellence at the home of tennis next summer.
As normality returns, we can’t wait for Wimbledon 2021 to be played in front of enthusiastic crowds.
Murray has already confirmed his intention to play at Wimbledon 2021. It’s his dream to do well there.
He revealed his target during a recent appearance on British comedy show “League Of Their Own.”
And no wonder he sounded confident of achieving that goal. No one is more determined than Andy Murray.
He will do anything to walk out on Centre Court once more to enjoy every moment of Wimbledon 2021.
He remains the crowd favourite at the All England Club after lifting two Wimbledon titles.
But other Brits will also get great support. Dan Evans, for example, has won new fans with his sheer passion for the game.
Emma Raducanu will still only be eighteen when we all return to Wimbledon. The recent promise she has shown is phenomenal.
Back in New York, Murray is loving his Grand Slam preparations as we near the US Open.
The way the Western and Southern draw unfolded, Novak Djokovic would play Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals if both men fulfilled their promise.
But Djokovic apparently has a neck injury, throwing his chances into doubt.
The other Southern and Western semi-final could involve a thrilling match-up between Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
But as Murray has already predicted, there will be shocks along the way after such a long lay-off from the tour.
Andy will be hoping to pull off a few shocks himself.
What a way that would be to announce his return to the world stage!