Andy Murray returned to action with victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina at
the inaugural Gijon Open in Spain on Tuesday.
The three-time Grand Slam champion missed last week’s Astana Open through illness and made a slow start against his Spanish opponent but found his form to record an excellent 7-5 6-2 win at the ATP 250 event.
Murray, who last played at the Laver Cup in London last month, dropped serve in the opening game and had to save break points in two of his next three service games to stay in touch.
He got his reward for that effort in the eighth game when he got back on serve, and another break in the 12th game earned him the opening set.
Murray maintained his momentum by moving ahead early in the second against Davidovich Fokina, ranked 17 places above the former world No 1 at 31, and finished strongly to set up a second-round clash with either Pedro Cachin of Argentina or Russian qualifier Alexey Vatutin.
« In the first set he was playing much better than me, » said Murray. « He had a lot of chances to get the second break of serve and I managed to stay tough in those moments. At the 4-3 game he played a bad game to give me the break back and after that I started to play a little bit better.
« I think he was a bit frustrated, and then in the second set his level dropped a little bit, but the end of the first set was very important because he was playing very well and it was a difficult first set. »
The 35-year-old, who has reached finals in Sydney and Stuttgart this year, is chasing his first tour-level title since he triumphed in Antwerp in 2019.
« Obviously I still enjoy it, » said Murray. « It’s not easy, the young guys are moving up extremely well, and they’re all hitting the ball harder and harder. Sometimes it is difficult to keep up, but I still enjoy it.
« We had a fantastic crowd today, a really nice atmosphere for the first round of a tournament… I really enjoy playing in new places, I’ve never been here before and it’s a beautiful place, so I’m happy to be here. »
Murray has also vowed to continue his battle to hold off the next generation of tennis talent, saying: « It’s not easy because the young guys are moving unbelievably well and they’re hitting the ball harder and harder all the time.
« So it’s difficult to keep up, but I still enjoy it. »