London, Two-time former champion Andy Murray made a memorable return to singles action at Wimbledon, overcoming 24th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 to reach the second round here.
Murray led 5-0 in the third set on Monday and was on the verge of closing out a straightforward victory. But after a stunning reversal that sent the match into a fourth set, the 34-year-old Murray battled to victory in three hours and 32 minutes.
Murray will next face either German qualifier Oscar Otte or French qualifier Arthur Rinderknech.
“I definitely should have finished it up a lot sooner than what I did,” said Murray after the late evening match on Monday. “(But) I don’t think there are that many players that would have won that fourth set.”
The Scot was making his first Wimbledon singles appearance since 2017, when he reached the quarter-finals before falling to Sam Querrey of the US in five sets. He missed the 2018 event as he was recovering from a hip surgery, and competed only in men’s doubles and mixed doubles here in 2019.
Playing in just his fourth tour-level event of the year, Murray fired 17 aces against Basilashvili as he improved his perfect record in Wimbledon first rounds to 13-0. He is now 3-3 on the season.
Murray, currently No. 118 on the ATP, countered Basilashvili’s aggressive game by adding variety to his groundstrokes, breaking up his opponent’s rhythm and never letting him get comfortable.
“I think I played well up until probably 5-3 in the third set. That’s never happened to me before in my career, being three breaks, a serve up and two sets to love up. Never had that happen before,” Murray told atptour.com.
“But (those are) the sorts of things that can happen when you haven’t played any matches. Things can get away from you a little bit quick.”
Earlier on Monday, Frances Tiafoe of the US shocked this year’s French Open finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 to enter the second round.