The five-time former champion took a wild card into the ATP 500 event in London, his first tour-level singles event since March. But it was like he had never been away, needing just 64 minutes to seal the victory in his first grass-court match since 2018 Eastbourne.
“I love it. I love playing tennis,” Murray said, with tears of emotion welling in his eyes during an on-court interview. “Obviously competing is why you put in all the hard work. In the last few years I didn’t get to do that as much as I would have liked, so it’s great that I’m out here and able to compete again.”
Murray: ‘I Can Still Compete With The Best Players’
Murray, who contemplated retirement in 2018 before undergoing hip resurfacing surgery, was sidelined for much of the 2019 and 2020 seasons during his recovery. He stepped away from the sport again three months ago, shortly before the British star and his wife, Kim, welcomed their fourth child.
The 46-time tour-level titlist, who is currently No. 124 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, didn’t face a break point in two sets against Paire. He fired 20 winners and 13 unforced errors, and kept his opponent contained to 15 and six, respectively.
“The body is old, but I did quite well today in terms of my movement and stuff,” Murray said. “It’s my first match on grass in three years and I’ve only played two or three practice sets in the buildup to this. I didn’t know exactly how I was going to play or how I was going to feel, but I think for a first match it was good.”
Murray will next face top seed Matteo Berrettini in the second round, after the Italian powered past countryman Stefano Travaglia 7-6(5), 7-6(4) earlier in the day. The Brit won the only encounter of their ATP Head2Head, winning in straight sets in Beijing in 2019.
In the same quarter of the draw, British No. 1 Daniel Evans defeated rising Australian Alexei Popyrin 6-4, 6-4. The sixth seed saved all five break points he faced to set a clash against Adrian Mannarino, who eliminated home favourite Liam Broady 6-4, 6-4 on Monday.
An Aussie who did advance Tuesday was fourth seed Alex de Minaur, who rallied past Serbian Laslo Djere 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. The 22-year-old will next play countryman John Millman. Eighth seed Fabio Fognini also moved on with a 6-4, 7-6(3) triumph against Yen-Hsun Lu.
Did You Know?
Murray’s victory marks the first time that four British players have won a match at The Queen’s Club since 2005, the year Murray made his tournament debut and claimed his first-tour level match win. Back then, he was joined by Tim Henman, Jamie Delgado and Greg Rusedski. This year, he is joined by Daniel Evans, Cameron Norrie and Jack Draper.