Andy Murray chalked up his best win since returning from hip surgery nine months ago by beating ATP#13 Matteo Berrettini in straight sets in the China Open in just over two hours.
He impressively came back from a break down in each set to win 7-6(7-2) 7-6 (9-7) to set up a tantalising second round encounter with fellow Brit Cameron Norrie.
Berrettini served for the first set but Murray broke back and went on to comfortably win the tie-break 7-2.
Murray then went 0-2 down at the start of the second set but the Scot showed glimpses of his former tenacity taking the set to another successful tie-break.
This was the Scot’s toughest test yet on his comeback trail, Berrettini having reached the US Open semi finals last month while he himself was trying to find his singles match form in lower ranking events in Winston Salem and Mallorca.
During the match Murray saved five out of seven break points and won 75 per cent of his first serves.
For the former ATP World #1, currently #503, this was Murray’s highest ranking victory since September 2018 when he beat David Goffin, also in China, at the Shenzhen Open.
Dominic Thiem, finalist at the last two Roland Garros editions and a victim of Rafael Nadal at both, earned his first defeat of Richard Gasquet, with his 6-4, 6-1 result sending the Austrian closer to a fourth consecutive appearance at the eight-man year-end finals in London.
Thiem managed eight aces in the 82-minute success. “I was ready from the first point on, as I have had a lot of trouble from him in the past,” the winner said.
“I tried to avoid that today, I felt great from the first practice, it’s great to get my first win in Beijing.
“It’s one of the strongest tournaments, you can lose every match, but I was very good today.”
Third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas advanced past Serb Dusan Lajovic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours.
Monte Carlo champion and sixth seed Fabio Fognini needed two and a half hous to go past Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(6); the Italian almost wasted his lead in the final set but held on to win in a tiebreaker.
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