New York, Aug 30 (EFE).- Greek world No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas received a stern test from veteran Scotsman Andy Murray in first-round action Monday at the US Open, but he rallied from a two-sets-to-one deficit to claim a 2-6, 7-6 (9-7), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory.
The marquee match-up of the opening session of tennis’ final Grand Slam event of the season more than lived up to the hype.
The 34-year-old Murray, a former world No. 1 who is trying to battle back from a nearly career-ending hip injury, started strong against an out-of-sorts Tsitsipas.
The British player grabbed a quick double-service-break lead and wrapped up the opening set without facing a single break point, showcasing the outstanding ball-striking on the backhand side, strong serving, variety and defense that have made him one of the best male players of the 21st century.
Murray, the winner of three Grand Slam titles, including the 2012 US Open, then had a few chances to extend his lead to two sets to love.
But Tsitsipas got out of trouble when serving down 3-4, 15-40, and then the Briton squandered a golden opportunity to wrap up the set when serving up 6-4 in the tiebreaker.
The 23-year-old Greek player produced his best tennis when it mattered most to even the contest at a set apiece, but Murray shook off that disappointment and grabbed a 3-0 lead at the start of the third set.
Although Tsitsipas threatened to break back in the fifth game, Murray saved four break points en route to winning a 16-point game and preserving his service-break advantage.
Murray went on to serve out the set a few games later, but Tsitsipas then jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the fourth set against an opponent that started showing some signs of fatigue.
After forcing a decider, the Greek star broke serve in the opening game of the fifth set and then clinched the victory in four hours and 48 minutes with five consecutive service holds despite the crowd’s efforts to will Murray back into the match.
Although the two players both attacked effectively throughout the contest, Tsitsipas’s greater firepower was evident in the final statistics: 19 aces to Murray’s nine and 67 winners to his opponent’s 42.
Even so, Murray, whose career has been derailed by injury in recent years and is currently ranked No. 112, proved to himself and the rest of the tennis world on Monday that he can still compete with the world’s best in a best-of-five-set contest.
In other first-round action Monday, American teenage phenom Cori Gauff outlasted Poland’s Magda Linette 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 and American Sloane Stephens edged compatriot Madison Keys 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (9-7) in a rematch of the 2017 US Open final (also won by Stephens).
In one early upset in the men’s draw, American Brandon Nakashima defeated countryman and No. 19 seed John Isner 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (8-6), 6-3. EFE