Andy Mur­ray back in DC for 1st time since 2006

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY HOWARD FEN­DRICH

Andy Mur­ray is back on hard courts for the first time in four months — and back at the Citi Open for the first time in nine years.

The two-time ma­jor cham­pion is seeded No. 1 at the U.S. Open tuneup that be­gan Mon­day, get­ting his game in gear on the sur­face on which he won his first Grand Slam ti­tle at Flush­ing Mead­ows in 2012.

Like other seeded play­ers, Mur­ray re­ceived a first-round bye, and his ini­tial match in Washington, where he hasn’t played since he was the 2006 run­ner-up, comes Wed­nes­day against 53rd-ranked Tey­mu­raz Gabashvili of Rus­sia. That will be Mur­ray’s first com­pe­ti­tion on a hard court since los­ing in the fi­nal at Mi­ami to top-ranked Novak Djokovic in early April.

“It does take a while, es­pe­cially com­ing from the grass. This morn­ing was the first time when I hit and started to feel more com­fort­able on the courts, feel like I’m start­ing to get used to them again. Ob­vi­ously the con­di­tions here, when com­pared with Wim­ble­don, is com­pletely dif­fer­ent. Ex­tremely hu­mid. Very high- bounc­ing courts,” said the third- ranked Mur­ray, who lost to No. 2 Roger Fed­erer in the semi­fi­nals at the All Eng­land Club last month.

In the Citi Open’s first com­pleted match, Louisa Chirico beat Heather Wat­son 6-3, 6-0. It was Wat­son’s first tour­na­ment ap­pear­ance since she pushed even­tual cham­pion Ser­ena Wil­liams to three sets in the third round at Wim­ble­don. Yu­lia Putint­seva got past Ku­rumi Nara 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4), and sixth-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu de­feated Madi­son Bren­gle 6-4, 6-0.

In men’s ac­tion, Gabashvili out­lasted Ben­jamin Becker 4-6, 6-1, 6-3; Don­ald Young beat Tommy Haas 6-3, 6-4; Hyeon Chung de­feated Dudi Sela 6-2, 6-1 and now faces reign­ing U.S. Open cham­pion Marin Cilic; James Duck­worth elim­i­nated Ryan Har­ri­son 6- 1, 7-6 (4) and will meet U.S. Open run­ner-up Kei Nishikori; and Vic­tor Estrella Bur­gos edged Ni­co­las Jarry 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to set up a match against eighth-seeded John Is­ner.

In dou­bles, the sec­ond stop on Mardy Fish’s farewell tour be­gan with a vic­tory. Fish, who plans to re­tire af­ter the U.S. Open, teamed with Grigor Dim­itrov to beat last year’s Wim­ble­don cham­pi­ons, Jack Sock and Vasek Pospisil.

Mur­ray and Daniel Nestor lost in dou­bles at night.

In sin­gles, Mur­ray’s sea­son so far: three ti­tles and a 48-7 record.

“The year as a whole, ob­vi­ously, has been good. It’s been much, much bet­ter than last year. So there’s been some progress there,” Mur­ray said. “But ob­vi­ously I want to keep try­ing to do bet­ter, and hope­fully these next few weeks, I can go on a good run on hard courts and fin­ish the year strong.”

At the ma­jors, Mur­ray reached one fi­nal (los­ing to Djokovic at the Aus­tralian Open) and a pair of semi­fi­nals (los­ing to Djokovic again at the French Open).

“In terms of goals, one of the things I spoke about at the be­gin­ning of the year was con­sis­tency, and try­ing to make sure I did bet­ter at more of the events than I had done in the past. And I feel like that’s ob­vi­ously been a pos­i­tive,” Mur­ray said.

“The Grand Slams are tour­na­ments I want to win. Haven’t quite man­aged to do that yet this year, but I feel like I’ve played well in all of the Slams. The French Open was the best I’ve ever played on the clay. The Aus­tralian Open, I was very close there, I felt. And un­for­tu­nately at Wim­ble­don, Roger played an un­be­liev­able match. He served ex­tremely well there and was just too good on that day.”

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