On September 24, 2019, the 2019 Zhuhai Championships (officially “Huajin Securities Zhuhai Championships”) started its first round at the Hengqin International Tennis Center in Zhuhai, China. Andy Murray, the 32-year-old Scottish professional tennis player beat Tennys Sandgren from the USA by 6-3, 6-7 (6-8 in tie break), 6-1. This was also his first tour-level singles victory since 1 January this year.
Andy Murray, the former world ranking No. 1 (as ranked in November 2016), 3-time Grand Slam tournament championship winner (2012 US Open, 2013 Wimbledon, and 2016 Wimbledon), as well as 8-time runner-ups (2008 US Open, 2010 Australian Open, 2011 Australian Open, 2012 Wimbledon, 2013 Australian Open, 2015 Australian Open, 2016 Australian Open, and 2016 French Open), has mainly suffered the hip injury in recent years and has undergone two hip surgeries in January 2018 and again in January 2019.
Before Tuesday night, Andy Murray has not seized any singles wins at the tour level since his comeback from a second hip surgery on 28 January 2019. Early this year before the surgery, Murray appeared in the singles of the 2019 Australian Open, but lost to Roberto Bautista Agut from Spain in the first round in five sets.
He was then out in the first round of the 2019 Cincinnati Masters, losing to Richard Gasquet from France. On August 19 last month, interestingly, Murray was also defeated by American Tennys Sandgren in the first round of the 2019 Winston-Salem Open. In that game, Murray lost to Sandgren in two straight sets. After that, he also played and won two games last month at the 2019 Rafa Nadal Open Banc Sabadell Challenger event, although it’s only a second tier ATP Challenger level event (which he hasn’t played on since 2005).
Just about one month later, Andy Murray faced Tennys Sandgren again in the first round. Having clearly recovered much of his strength, Murray managed to seize an opportunity and break Sandgren’s serve in the sixth round of the first set. Murray went on to win the first set by 6-3. In the second set, Sandgren took the initiative of offense, by intentionally forcing Murray to move drastically around on the court. They tied on the score all the way until the tie break. Murray wasted a game point and then lost the second set by 6-7 (6-8 in tie break).
It was feared by many that whether Andy Murray could physically overcome the intensity of the third set, especially as he is still recovering from a major injury. But the Scot cleared the doubts by quickly taking a 3-0 lead in the final set. Soon afterwards, Tennys Sandgren suffered a foot injury, causing a medical suspension of the game. After the resumption, Sandgren moved with a noticeably slower pace, replying only on his service rounds to hang on.
Tennys Sandgren was without doubt hoping to win this game. Affected by the foot injury, Sandgren staggered the last few rounds while being applauded by the audiences on the field. Murray, too, was nearly exhausted to the end of the game while breathing and walking heavily on the court.
Critically, in the fourth round of the final set, both sides competed back and forth for as many as 22 minutes, before Andy Murray expanding his lead to 4-0. Murray eventually finished the final set by 6-1 and won this hard-fought game.
One hour after winning the game, Andy Murray said on the post-game press conference, “I think that in some ways that it’s one of the best wins that I’ve had, not in terms of just getting through that today, but everything that’s gone into getting back to this point.”
He continued, “You don’t necessarily appreciate what it’s like to be healthy at the beginning of your career. It’s something that you take for granted and it’s quite easy, whereas these past few years haven’t been.”
“Obviously after the operation in January it’s been difficult and it was undecided at times about whether I wanted to keep going or not and it’s been tough. But I’m really glad that I can actually get the win today and hopefully I’ll be able to keep going.”
Andy Murray will next face the seventh seed Alex de Minaur from Australia on September 26, who just defeated another Australian John Millman in the first round by 6-1, 6-3. On the other hand, both the fifth and sixth seed, Lucas Pouille from France and Nick Kyrgios from Australia, respectively, have been defeated in the first round.
At the same time, two of the total three Chinese players with wildcards, Wu Di and Zhang Zhizhen, both advanced to the second round; Wu Di defeated Japanese Tatsuma Ito by 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, and Zhang Zhizhen beat Dominik Koepfer from Germany by 7-5, 6-2. The other wildcard entrant from China, Zhang Ze, however, lost to Adrian Mannarino from France in the first round by 6-7 (6-8 in tie break), 5-7.