Andy Murray produced a comeback for the ages to progress to the second round of the US Open in a scintillating five-set thriller against Yoshihito Nishioka.
The 2012 US Open champion looked entirely flat as he fell two sets and a break down but found inspiration from the depths within, saving a match point on the way to an enthralling 4-6 4-6 7-6 7-6 6-4 victory against the world no48.
It was the Scot’s first Grand Slam appearance since a first-round exit at the 2019 Australian Open, after which he endured a lengthy absence after undergoing what was potentially a career-ending hip surgery.
The win proves another positive step in Murray’s return to fitness and form, his second-round victory over world no7 Alexander Zverev at the Western & Southern Open last week his first over an opponent ranked in the ATP’s top 10 since 2017.
Meanwhile, British no1 Johanna Konta progressed to the second round with a 6-4 6-1 win over Heather Watson to join Kyle Edmund and Cameron Norrie who went through on Monday.
The tone of the match was set in the opening game as Murray was taken to deuce by an evidently speedy Nishioka who looked entirely comfortable in rallying with the former world no1 from the baseline.
A clear pattern continued throughout the opening set, with Murray finding it difficult to break his opponent’s steely defence, hitting just six winners for 11 unforced errors as Nishioka broke in the seventh to take it 6-4.
Perhaps unaided by an almost-empty 23,000 seat Arthur Ashe Stadium, Murray’s body language looked somewhat dejected as he fell to back-to-back breaks at the start of the second, waiting until the fifth game of the set for Nishioka to make his first unforced error.
Murray battled back defiantly from 4-0 down but managed just one of the two required breaks. And perhaps in a moment that summed up the affair, the Brit’s string broke at set point down, sending his return long to hand Nishioka another 6-4 set.
The three-time Grand Slam winner looked down and out as he was immediately broken in the third. However, he showed his never-say-die attitude to break back, dragging Nishioka into a tie-break and taking it 7-5.
Murray once again proved an entirely different force in the fourth, saving two break points in both the second and the sixth game of the set as he defiantly held on once more.
And his incredible display of determination didn’t stop there. He saved match point in the 11th game to take the fourth set into a tie-break, which he took emphatically by seven points to four.
Murray was forced to come from behind once more in the final set. After Nishioka broke in the fifth game, Murray broke straight back, before taking it 6-4 to seal a dramatic, energy-sapping win.
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