Andy Murray wins his first match on clay in five years against Dominic Thiem at the Madrid Open | Tennis | sport
Andy Murray won his first match on clay in nearly five years as the Ivan Lendl effect had an immediate impact at the Madrid Open on Monday night. He defeated 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem in straight sets. The Scot and the Czech-American announced they would be working together for the third time in March.
And after a training camp in Florida, the Scot won his first official match under Lendl against fellow Grand Slam champion Thiem 6-3 6-4. Then, in his on-court interview, the world No. 81 added: “I had hardly played on clay in the last five years. I did four weeks of training on it before coming here, so I felt maybe more comfortable than usual at the start of the clay-court season.
“I played well. I thought Dominic was playing well at times, but he just started playing again and therefore made a few more mistakes than usual. But I was happy with the way I played. I moved particularly well.
“It’s something I’ve been working on a lot over the last four weeks. It changes the way I play. I didn’t hear from Ivan before the game so I hope he was watching . I’m sure I will talk to him at some point the next day.”
Lendl took Murray to three Grand Slam titles and world number 1 earlier in the Scot’s career. Murray was playing his first match on clay in 18 months – and his first appearance at this event since 2017.
And the joker hadn’t won a match on the red thing since beating Kei Nishikori in the 2017 French Open quarter-final. He injured his hip in his semi-final loss against Stan Wawrinka, which marked the beginning of his long injury problems.
And 2020 US Open winner Thiem was also on the comeback trail as he sought his first win since suffering a serious right wrist injury last June. The two produced high-class exchanges at the Manolo Santana stadium between two former French Open finalists before the Austrian’s flaky forehand dropped it.
The world No. 91, who was playing on a protected rating, dropped his serve for the first time when he landed a long forehand – and he repeated the mistake on set point. Murray mixed up his game well with drop shots and broke again to lead 2-1 in the second set when a forehand from Thiem hit the net.
The Scot, who turns 35 later this month, saved all three break points on his serve and finished the match with his first match point when Thiem hit a forehand into the net after an hour and a half. 42 minutes.
Murray, who will play the winner of the first-round match between Denis Shapovalov and Ugo Humbert, could face world number 1 Novak Djokovic in the third round.
All five British singles players won in the first round here as Cam Norrie beat world number 73 Soonwoo Koo 7-5 7-5 with just one break at 5-5 in each set. “It wasn’t easy,” said the world number 11. “I just resisted at the end.” Emma Raducanu, Jack Draper and Dan Evans also succeeded.