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May 2, 2022 9:52 pm

Andy Murray earns rare clay-court win at Madrid

Great Britain’s Andy Murray earned his first clay-court match win in almost five years, defeating Austria’s Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-4 on Monday in the first round of the Mutua Madrid Open.

The match featured a rare first-round meeting of former Grand Slam champions. Murray, who won the U.S. Open in 2012 and prevailed at Wimbledon and 2013 and 2016, is currently ranked No. 78. Thiem, the 2020 U.S. Open winner, is ranked 91st.

Both players have been seeking a return to form after injuries.

Murray, 34, finished with a 9-3 edge in aces and saved all three of the break points he faced. The match featured just two service breaks, one in the middle of each set.

“I enjoyed it,” Murray said. “I prepared really hard before coming here. I worked hard and really wanted to go out and put a good performance out there. I feel like I did that.

“When I played a couple of years ago on the clay, I was struggling a little bit with my groin. My body felt really good in the last few weeks and tonight I felt like I moved well and I played a really good match.”

Murray’s most recent win on clay came against Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the 2017 French Open quarterfinals.

Thiem was in his third ATP-level tournament since returning from wrist and finger injuries. He has now lost his opening match in all three events.

“It’s extremely difficult,” Murray said of Thiem working his way back. “He obviously had the injury initially and has also had some setbacks along the way. Mentally, it will take time to feel confident, totally accelerating on the ball. I had a wrist injury when I was 20 years old and it was very difficult. It took me time before I started to feel comfortable on the forehand side again.

“He uses his wrist a lot when he plays. He plays with heavy topspin. It’s obviously going to take him time, but he can still hit the ball great. He’s serving well, moving well. It’s just going to take time.”

The tournament’s top eight seeds all received first-round byes. The four seeded players in action Monday — No. 9 Cameron Norrie of Great Britain, No. 10 Jannik Sinner of Italy, No. 13 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina and No. 14 Denis Shapovalov of Canada — all won their matches.

Other opening-round winners were Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili, Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Australia’s Alex de Minaur, Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, France’s Gael Monfils, French wild card Lucas Pouille and qualifiers David Goffin of Belgium, Dusan Lajovic of Serbia and Lorenzo Musetti of Italy.

–Field Level Media

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