Following his encouraging showing at last week’s China Open in Beijing, former world No. 1, Andy Murray continues his comeback from hip surgery when he plays Argentine, Juan Ignacio Londero in the first round of the Shanghai Masters on Monday.
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Murray took a massive step in his return from injury in Beijing, beating Nitto ATP Finals hopeful and US Open semi-finalist, Matteo Berrettini, and fellow Brit, Cameron Norrie to score back-to-back tour-level wins for the first time in his comeback, and reach the quarter finals of the ATP 500 tournament.
Even in defeat to world No. 5 and eventual champion, Dominic Thiem in the last eight, there were still plenty of positives, as the Brit generally played at a very good level, showing characteristic grit as he battled back from 5-3 down in the second set before succumbing to the 6-2 7-6 defeat.
“I’m playing well enough to be competitive at this level against all of the players,” Murray said after his loss to Thiem. “Maybe not quite consistent enough just now to beat maybe the top players. But I think against guys that are No. 10 or No. 20 in the world, I can compete well against them just now”.
“I think I need a few more weeks of playing matches like this. [I need] two, three or four matches in a week, trying to play consistently well in all of those matches to say I’m playing Top 20 tennis or something like that. But I’m getting there”.
At the start of the year, Murray feared his career would be over by now, revealing in January that he planned to retire at Wimbledon because of his hip problem. He also said it was possible he wouldn’t play again after the Australian Open, if he felt his hip couldn’t take his career any further.
However, following successful surgery at the end of January, Murray returned to the sport in June, initially easing his way back via doubles, before slowly reacquainting himself with singles action. He lost his first two tour-level singles matches, to Richard Gasquet and Tennys Sandgren in Cincinnati and Winston-Salem respectively, but he got off the mark in his next tournament in Zhuhai, incidentally beating Sandgren before falling to Alex De Minaur.
Murray scored the biggest win of his comeback in Beijing, beating World No. 13, Berrettini 7-6 7-6 in the first round, and backed it up with a three-set win over compatriot, Cameron Norrie, before being was stopped by Thiem in the last eight.
The world No. 503 is continuing his comeback this week in Shanghai, where he is a three-time former champion, and he plays Argentine, Juan Ignacio Londero in his tournament opener on Monday.
Londero is looking to win his first main draw match since the US Open, after suffering consecutive first round defeats in his most recent tournaments in Chengdu and Tokyo.
The Argentine enters Shanghai via the qualifying route, beating Victor Troicki amd Bradley Klahn in straight sets to reach the main draw for the first time in his career.
26-year-old Londero is having his breakout season, but much of his rise has been due to his efforts on clay. He had never been inside the top 100 prior to 2019, but he shot into the top 70 in February, following a shock run to the Cordoba title. He had never won a tour-level main draw match prior to that week.
His other notable results outside Cordoba were a fourth-round run at Roland Garros, and a runner-up finish in Bastad, also on clay. Londero has not won consecutive matches in any other tournament this season. He is 3-5 in hard-court matches, reaching the second round in Los Cabos, Cincinnati and New York, before succumbing to back-to-back first round losses in Chengdu and Tokyo. He thus goes into Monday’s match against Murray looking to avoid a fourth consecutive tour-level main draw defeat.
Despite his inconsistent results, Londero still sits comfortably inside the top 100, and has not been ranked lower than 80th since that Cordoba result. Currently ranked 59th in the world, he has been as high as 55th. A decent run in Shanghai will most likely take him to a new career-high, but he faces a tricky opener against Murray on Monday.
Londero has done virtually nothing outside clay this season- this therefore presents Murray with another wonderful opportunity to register another victory as his return from injury continues to gather momentum.
Andy Murray vs Juan Ignacio Londero is live from Shanghai on Monday, 7 October from 6:30pm local time/ 11:30am BST