Can Andy Murray really get the win in his first Grand Slam singles match since undergoing hip resurfacing? He faces…
Can Andy Murray really get the win in his first Grand Slam singles match since undergoing hip resurfacing? He faces Yoshihito Nishioka on Tuesday.
Andy Murray vs Yoshihito Nishioka | US Open 2020 men's singles R1 | 1/9/2020 5pm BSTUnder 35.5 games 26/25 Bet Now! New Customers only. 18+. T&C’s Apply. begambleaware.org.
Murray vs Nishioka is live from New York on Tuesday 1 September, 12pm local/5pm BST
Andy Murray’s last Grand Slam singles match was his five-set defeat to Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round of the 2019 Australian Open, in the wake of his emotional announcement that he feared he was going to have to retire from tennis altogether after struggling with an excruciatingly painful hip injury for years. As we all know, that was not the end of Murray’s career – he underwent hip resurfacing surgery, returned to singles action by the end of 2019 and even won an ATP title in Antwerp.
One thing Murray hasn’t done, however, is play a best-of-five sets singles match – and indeed he has only played three singles matches at all in 2020. Under the circumstances, is it realistic to expect him to beat Yoshihito Nishioka, a rising left-hander very nearly at his career-high ranking, in the first round of the US Open on Tuesday?
Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.
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Murray vs Nishioka: Head-to-head
This will be the first meeting between Murray and Nishioka.
Murray vs Nishioka: Preview
Even before the six-month shutdown of ATP, WTA and ITF tournaments, Murray was on the sidelines, still recuperating from the pelvic injury he incurred at the end of 2019 when playing the Davis Cup Finals.
Last week’s ‘Cincinnati’-New York Masters, relocated from its usual Ohio home to the US Open site to form a two-tournament bubble with the Grand Slam, was therefore Murray’s first official tournament since the previous November, although with all players rusty and lacking in match-fitness this was less of a disadvantage than it could have been – and Murray’s results showed it as he beat Frances Tiafoe and then, impressively, world no. 7 Alexander Zverev.
Murray’s win over Zverev did owe a lot to Zverev’s catastrophic slew of double faults in the closing stages – he served consecutive double faults when serving for the match and then when serving to stay in the match – and the British player was totally outplayed by Milos Raonic in the round of 16, looking low-energy and out of sorts as Raonic, who would go on to reach the final, won 6-2, 6-2.
Murray obviously has a long way to go, but he has two major advantages against Nishioka on Tuesday. The first is experience: Murray has been playing Grand Slam main-draws since 2005, and he knows all about winning matches at them – his defeat to Bautista Agut in January 2019 was his first opening-round loss at a major since the 2008 Australian Open. The second is recent matches: Murray played three last week. Nishioka hasn’t played since losing to Pierre-Hugues Herbert in Dubai in February.
That said, Nishioka will be no pushover. The 24-year-old is just one place off his career-high ranking of world no. 49 at the moment: After his initial climb up the rankings was derailed by a torn ACL after making the fourth round of the Indian Wells Masters as a lucky loser in 2017, Nishioka’s ranking dropped as low as world no. 380 in 2018 but by the end of the year he was back inside the top 100 after winning his maiden ATP Tour title in Shenzhen. He scored wins over the likes of Kei Nishikori, Gael Monfils, Roberto Bautista Agut and David Goffin in 2019, made the third round of the Australian Open in January and finished runner-up at the ATP 250 in Delray Beach before the shutdown. The left-hander is the real deal.
Murray has an excellent record against left-handers which looks even better when you discount his matches against Rafael Nadal, but Nishioka – fast, compact and fit – can trouble Murray if he can find ways to be aggressive without making too many unforced errors. Experience and grit should carry Murray through, but not without Nishioka keeping it fairly close.