WASHINGTON: Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray moved closer to a singles comeback six months after hip surgery, joining brother Jamie for a doubles victory Wednesday at the ATP Washington Open.
The Murrays, partnered for the first time since the 2016 Rio Olympics, downed Frenchmen Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-4, 6-7 (7/9), 10-5 in a first-round match at the US Open tune-up event.
The British duo trailed 5-2 in the decisive super-tiebreaker but steamrolled back by taking the last eight points, Jamie Murray’s service winner securing the victory.
It was Andy who began the rally with a backhand winner and added backhand volley and drop volley winners on the two penultimate points.
Andy Murray is practising singles and playing doubles as the former world number one, now ranked 222, continues his fightback from right hip surgery in January.
The 32-year-old Scotsman feared he could be forced into retirement before the operation. He returned to the court in June but only in doubles while he rehabilitates.
Thus far, his hip has responded better than expected, Murray declaring Monday he was “quite close” to a singles comeback, perhaps as soon as Cincinnati in two weeks.
That would be only two weeks ahead of the US Open, with Murray also saying if he didn’t make it back for Cincinnati he would likely wait until after the year’s final Grand Slam event, not wishing to make his first test of the hip over best-of-five-set showdowns.
Murray, who won Grand Slam titles at the 2012 US Open and in 2013 and 2016 at Wimbledon, most recently played singles at the Australian Open in January, losing a first-round five-setter to Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.
The Murrays, who helped Britain win the 2015 Davis Cup, broke the French duo in the final game to claim the first set then outlasted them to the finish after one hour and 51 minutes.
They will next face either Germans Andreas Mies and Kevin Krawietz or third seeds Michael Venus of New Zealand and Raven Klaasen of South Africa.
Isner, Raonic advance
US fifth seed John Isner advanced to the third round by eliminating Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-4. Isner, seeking his 16th career ATP crown, was a Washington runner-up in 2007, 2013 and 2015.
“It was a good start,” Isner said. “I’m happy with the win.”
Canadian ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime outlasted American Reilly Opelka 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to book a third-round date against sixth seed Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open winner.
Canadian eighth seed Milos Raonic, the 2014 Washington winner and only past champion in the field, ripped American Tim Smyczek 6-1, 6-4.
In the accompanying WTA event, the third top seed in as many days fell as US third seed Sofia Kenin, who upset Serena Williams at the French Open, lost in the second round to compatriot Lauren Davis 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.