Andy Murray digs deep to come back from two sets down in epic FIVE-HOUR win over Yoshihito Nishioka on US Open return
ANDY MURRAY produced one of his greatest comeback results on a fairy-tale night in New York.
The sushi-loving Scot knocked out Japan’s second best player Yoshihito Nishioka on a night of high drama in the Big Apple.
Muzza came from two sets down, survived ONE MATCH POINT and ignored a painful toe injury to prevail 4-6 4-6 7-6 7-6 6-4 in the first round of the US Open in more than four-and-a-half hours.
It was yet another thrilling five-set classic to add his enormous collection – Murray never does things easy – and showed that even with the burden of a metal hip implant he can still compete against the world’s best.
Just when we thought he was checking out of his Covid-19 bubble hotel and booking a flight back to the UK ready for the clay-court season, Murray showed that his never-say-die attitude had not disappeared.
The former world No.1 arrived at Flushing Meadows this summer to much fanfare for his first singles match at major level since the 2019 Australian Open.
And despite dealing with the speed and energy of world No.49 Nishioka, Murray showed moments of true grit and excellence to progress.
Yes, there were far too many unforced errors, doubles faults and the winners’ count was not exactly what is expected of a three-time Grand Slam winner.
Stats that will need to be rectified if he has any aspirations of winning again this fortnight.
There was even an accidental broken racket at the end of the second set which seemed to sum up his bad luck at that point.
But Murray did what he always does, dig deep into his vast reserves to celebrate one of his most impressive results. If only there had been a crowd present to saviour it.
Of course, on the one hand, Murray was just grateful to be out there at the highest level given he thought his career was over 19 months ago following hip-resurfacing surgery.
The 33-year-old had said beforehand that playing with no fans would be “weird” and clearly he did not adjust to playing in silence on the biggest tennis court in the world.
Especially on the vast Arthur Ashe stadium where he had the memories of winning the singles crown against Novak Djokovic eight years ago.
Initially, Murray’s tennis was as flat as the lack of the atmosphere he struggled to find any rhythm or consistency.
Nishioka, nine years Murray’s junior, stuck to his game plan perfectly, engaging in the rallies, taking the initiative, being aggressive on the second serve.
He was aiming to take his second British scalp this year, having knocked out Dan Evans from the Australian Open second round in January.
In the second set, Murray found himself 4-0 down and staring at the prospect of being bagelled for the first time in more than five-and-a-half years of pro tennis.
When the strings on his racket broke, you couldn’t help but wonder that fortune was beginning to hide.
It was all a far cry from the displays he showed in dispatching of American Frances Tiafoe and German Alex Zverev during last month’s Western & Southern Open.
But then something magical happened, Murray regrouped, his form improved and he won the next two tie-breakers.
Even when he was faced with a match point in the fourth set, he delivered such an incredible serve that the return from Nishioka was too long.
Those who have watched his career have lost count of the numerous occasions Murray has surprised them, destroyed the odds and overturned the form book.
This was one of those moments. Perhaps given everything he has put up with, the injuries, the setbacks, the dark days, this is his most fulfiling moment.
The man with the metal hip is well and truly back. And thank goodness for that.
Murray, who came from 2-0 sets down to win for the 10th time, said: “I’m tired.
“My toes are the worst part. The big toes on both sides are pretty beat up. But I did alright, physically
“At the beginning of the match I was apprehensive about playing a long match, you pace yourself, you sort of do that as a junior.
“Once I got two sets down, I had to put the after-burners on and managed to come through.
“I had to start striking the ball better, I was hitting it late and tentative, then I went and took too many chances and made too many errors.
“I didn’t have the balance. I got that towards the end, and was dictating more points with my forehand.
“I served okay at the end but not at the beginning. I had to change a few things.
“He is a very good player, extremely tricky, not the biggest guy and not with the biggest serve. I struggled to break him.
“Some guys had got back at him and broken him. I managed to turn it around.
“My body hurts. I need to recover as best as possible. I need an ice bath now.
“This is an emergency. That was by far the most tennis I have played since the 2019 Aussie Open.”
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