Andy Murray got a standing ovation but he didn’t win the match. In his first tour appearance in 11 months, Murray thrilled his home fans for much of the afternoon in his contest against Nick Kyrgios. But in the end, the Australian was just a tad better getting a tough 2-6, 7-6(4), 7-5 in two hours, 39 minutes.
Murray, who had never lost to Kyrgios in five meetings dropping just one set, stunned the Australian in the opener breezing to a 6-2 set. But the Scot went down a quick break in the second, and though he leveled and came with three points of the win, he couldn’t end it in two.
Kyrgios pressed on break Murray in the end to take it.
Afterward, while Kyrgios was the winner, the crowd was appreciative and encouraged by Murray’s performance. So too was the former No. 1.
“I’m really happy that I got on the match court today and played,” said Murray. “It was a close decision. I have not been practicing loads at all… I really haven’t played a whole lot of tennis, so I’m happy I got out there and competed and performed respectably
“I have been waiting obviously to get back and [start] competing again… It was also nice I guess that my first match was back here in the UK and in front of a full crowd, at a tournament I love playing at.”
Kyrgios, who tried multiple tweeners and between-the-legs volleys, now faces another Brit in Kyle Edmund who edged Ryan Harrison.
“Kyle’s been playing great,” said Kyrgios. “I played juniors with him. I always knew he was going to be pretty good. He had a really good forehand.
“I never really get surprised when he does well. He can play on [grass] as well.”
Novak Djokovic was also in action and he looked excellent in a 65-minute 6-2, 6-1 win over John Millman.
“It was a good match,” said Djokovic. The focus was there, I had the right intensity every shot. Every shot was working really beautifully. I thought I put a lot of pressure on him, on his service games, because I was getting a lot of returns back in play. Also I was quite solid on my returns, my strokes, and he was on the back foot from the beginning of the point. I’m very pleased to be able to start off the grass court season this way at the tournament where I haven’t participated for eight years.”
Up next will be Grigor Dimitrov who needed three to deny Damir Dzumhur. Djokovic has won six of seven against Dimitrov.
“You have to go through matches like this in order for you to win a tournament,” Dimitrov said. “Whether it’s early rounds or late in the tournament, you still have to beat those kind of guys. [Djokovic] played a very good match. I watched a little bit… I’m here to play, I’m here to compete and try to find a better game. Simple as that.”
Added Djokovic, “Right now it’s all about tennis, all about improving, and getting on a high level… So a match against Dimitrov, obviously, is a very good challenge for both of us, especially me at this time, with not too many matches under my belt in general this year or the past 12 months.”
Defending champion Feliciano Lopez fought through David Goffin in three. Julien Benneteau ousted the fledgling Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic got a retirement from Yuki Bhambri then retired himself from the event with a pectoral injury.
Tomorrow, Stan Wawrinka meets Sam Querrey and top seed Marin Cilic challenges Gilles Muller.
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