Andy Murray’s return to the ATP main tour ended in defeat after he was edged out in three sets by Nick Kyrgios at the Fever-Tree Championships.
Playing for the first time in 11 months and with the backing of a vocal crowd at the Queen’s Club, Murray – now ranked 156 in the world – went toe-to-toe with the Australian for well over two hours before losing 2-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5.
It was a tremendous effort from Murray – watched by his mother Judy and wife Kim – considering this was the Scot’s first taste of competitive tennis since undergoing hip surgery in January.
The 31-year-old showed plenty of craft, movement and guile, although there were some signs of ring-rust, which is to be expected to considering his long spell on the sidelines. Fitness-wise, he showed few ill-effects of the injury until deep into the third set.
Off the court since Wimbledon last year, Murray reeled off four games in a row from 2-2 in the first set to take the initiative, albeit he was assisted by some wayward Kyrgios serves as the Australian delivered five double faults at inopportune moments and threw in some entertaining yet unnecessary trick shots.
The second set was a far tighter affair as Kyrgios rediscovered his focus, both men trading two breaks apiece on the way to 4-4 before serving their way to a tie-break.
Kyrgios raced into an early lead and although Murray pulled it back to 4-4, Kyrgios won the next three points to force a deciding set.
The third set went on serve as both men started to show signs of fatigue, with Murray saving two match points on his own serve at 4-5 down. Kyrgios then had to save a break point of his own at 5-5 before he delivered the final blow at 5-6, breaking Murray to 30 when the Scot double faulted on match point.
Murray and his team, however, will be pleased to have put up such a fight against such a high-calibre opponent. His next scheduled tournament is Wimbledon, starting on July 2.