Andy Murray made a winning return from injury as he beat Benoit Paire in straight sets (6-4 6-2) in the…
Andy Murray made a winning return from injury as he beat Benoit Paire in straight sets (6-4 6-2) in the opening round of the Cinch Championships at Queen’s Club.
The former World number one looked solid in all departments during what was his first competitive singles match since defeat by Andrey Rublev at the Rotterdam Open in March.
Murray, who was sidelined with a groin injury, took just over an hour to see off the Frenchman as he set up a mouth-watering second-round showdown with top seed Matteo Berrettini.
Playing competitively for only the fourth time in 2021, the Scotsman missed the Australian Open after testing positive for Covid-19, while he opted to sit out of the clay-court season to focus his attentions on Wimbledon.
Murray marked his comeback at the place where he has enjoyed the most success during his career, having lifted the trophy a record five times at Queen’s.
His first match on grass for three years, Murray made a strong start; breaking to love in game four on the way to taking the first set 6-3.
Paire had only previously tasted victory in this event on one occasion and arrived with just three wins under his belt from 25 matches.
And the Frenchman was powerless as Murray broke twice more to take the second set 6-2 and book his place in round two.
There, he will face Italy’s Berrettini, who needed two tie-breaks to see off compatriot Stefano Travaglia in straight sets.
The world number nine has enjoyed an impressive start to 2021 – winning the Serbia Open, while he was runner-up in Madrid and a French Open quarter-finalist – and will provide a tough test of Murray’s credentials.
There was further joy for the home crowd as British number one Dan Evans overcame Australia’s Alexei Popyrin 6-4 6-4.
Evans’ first win at Queen’s since 2014 set up a second-round clash with Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
Second seed Denis Shapovalov and eighth seed Fabio Fognini also advanced in straight sets against Aleksandar Vukic and Yen-Hsun Lu respectively.
Meanwhile, fourth seed Alex de Minaur recovered from a set down to beat Laslo Dere 3-6 6-3 6-4.