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Andy Murray beats Stan Wawrinka for first win of comeback, but still undecided on Wimbledon

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 25 Jun 2018
  • Andy Murray beats Stan Wawrinka in the first round of Eastbourne for the first victory of his comeback
  • Murray will face Kyle Edmund in the second round at the Nature Valley International
  • Still no decision on whether Murray will play Wimbledon
Andy Murray celebrates victory over Stan Wawrinka in Eastbourne - the first match Murray has won since his hip surgery (GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Andy Murray scored his first victory since hip surgery as he defeated Stan Wawrinka in straight sets in Eastbourne.

Murray defeated fellow three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka 6-1, 6-3 to set up an all-British second-round clash with second seed Kyle Edmund – but said he was still undecided about whether or not he would play Wimbledon.

The former world no. 1 only returned to competition last week at the Fever-Tree Championships played at Queen’s Club in west London, where he played his first match since Wimbledon 2017 – almost exactly a year ago now – against world no. 19 Nick Kyrgios. Murray lost in three sets, but was sufficiently encouraged by the way his body held up in the wake of hip surgery in January to take a wildcard into the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne.

Murray might have hoped for less formidable opposition at the 250-level ATP event in Eastbourne, which features a considerably less impressive field than Queen’s Club, and indeed the current world no. 156 drew the only player lower-ranked than him as a first-round opponent – it’s just unfortunate that said opponent, the world no. 225, happened to be three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka.

‘I looked at someone like a [Juan Martin] del Potro, who has come back from multiple injuries and some of the draws you get are really difficult,’ Murray said after the match. 

‘You have to just try to accept it, try and deal with it as best as you can and hopefully start winning some of those matches soon. I didn’t know if that was going to come today, but I was okay with it. It’s good to get a competitive match against a top player. ‘

Murray showcased some trademark defensive brilliance (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) 
Wawrinka is also on the comeback trail, having undergone two surgeries on his knee in 2017 when he was one of a trio of top players, the others being Murray and Novak Djokovic, to shut down their seasons after Wimbledon. The Swiss player, however, has been back on court for much longer than Murray – he played the Australian Open in January, and although his comeback has been a stuttering affair, with 13 matches played in 2018 to Murray’s one, you would have expected Wawrinka to look much more comfortable and much less rusty than his opponent.

As things transpired, it turned out to be exactly the other way around with Wawrinka listless, error-prone, tactically naïve and generally just bad, while Murray looked self-assured and sharp, despite some nerves in the second set he admitted to afterwards.

Murray was more or less in charge from the beginning, exerting pressure on the Wawrinka serve in the fourth game to set up three break points with his trademark defense. Wawrinka looked unwilling to move in and attack the net, opting instead to try to outlast Murray from the back of the court, but it was almost invariably his own groundstrokes that gave way first. Saving the second break point with an ace, Wawrinka immediately conceded a third as he pushed an attempt at a first-strike winner wide, and then a lunging forehand on the run that only Murray could have pulled off got the error and saw the British player break to lead. 

Murray immediately consolidated to love to hold 4-1 before breaking again off another Wawrinka forehand error and was swiftly up 6-1 in just 31 minutes. 

Wawrinka went down 15-30 as he served to open the second set after an unlucky net cord carried his ball out, but held to avoid giving up the immediate break. It was only postponing the crisis, however, as he turned in an error-strewn game ending in a backhand error to see the solid Murray break and lead 3-2. By that point, Murray had only lost one point when his first serve went in, but the closing stretch of the game would be unsurprisingly tense. 

Wawrinka was bad – but that shouldn’t obscure how superb Murray’s movement, instincts and hands on grass courts remain despite an absence of all but a year. That was exemplified by a point as Murray served to consolidate the break. Wawrinka had 15-30, finally attacked the net with Murray on the run and should have won the point, only for the British player to throw up a reflex defensive lob, then lunge for another which landed perfectly for a winner. He went on to establish the set-and-break lead. 

Murray shows his joy and relief after winning (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) 
Wawrinka had, perhaps, another chance when Murray went down 15-40 at 4-3, but the British player served and volleyed twice to get to game point. Two more break points came and went, the last saved as Wawrinka fired a forehand down the line long after an 18-shot rally, and another forehand error from Wawrinka after a lengthy point saw the British player move within one game of his first victory since beating Benoit Paire in the fourth round of Wimbledon last July.

Serving to stay in the match at 3-5, Wawrinka dug himself out of a 0-30 hole to get to game point but double-faulted to deuce. He saved one match point with a backhand winner, but fired a forehand wide on an attempted V-play – the story of the match for Wawrinka – and, match point down once more, double faulted to hand the win to Murray.

‘Very happy to get the win. I thought the first set I played well, second set was a little bit patchy at times, a bit nervous towards the end,’ Murray said. 

‘Obviously when you've not played for the best part of a year, closing out the match against someone like Stan, who I've had lots of great matches with — tough, tough guy to play against — was tough. But delighted to get the win.’

Murray now has a day off before playing second seed Kyle Edmund, who in Murray’s absence has risen not only to become the British no. 1 but a top-20 player after a run to the semifinals of the Australian Open. How well he recovers physically from Monday’s brief encounter to compete against Edmund will doubtless be a big factor in the decision whether or not to play Wimbledon – a decision the two-time champion said he would take nearer the time.

The Wimbledon draw is scheduled to take place on Friday 29 June, with the tournament beginning on Monday 2 July.

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Andy Murray beats Stan Wawrinka for first win of comeback, but still undecided on Wimbledon

Former world no. 1 Andy Murray scored his first victory since hip surgery over Stan Wawrinka to set up a second-round clash with Kyle Edmund at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne.

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