Andy Murray has urged Dominic Thiem to “keep going” in his comeback from injury after Murray defeated the Austrian 6-3, 6-4 in the Madrid Open first round to claim his first win on a clay court in five years.
Thiem returned from a 10-month wrist injury lay-off four weeks ago and has yet to taste victory in any of the four matches he has contested so far.
Former world No 1 Murray, who has spent several seasons dealing with hip problems and recovering from surgeries, gave Thiem some words of encouragement at the end of their clash at the Caja Magica.
“I hope you feel better soon. I’m glad to see you back, keep going, it takes a lot of time but you’ll be fine,” Murray told the former US Open champion as they shook hands at the net.
Andy Murray, who initially intended to skip the clay season, made a surprise appearance in Madrid after the hard-court Challengers he was planning to compete at were cancelled.
He plans on playing in the Spanish capital, as well as next week’s ATP 1000 tournament in Rome before shifting his focus to next month’s grass season.
Andy Murray will play Denis Shapovalov next
Two-time Madrid champion Murray benefited from 33 unforced errors off the Thiem racquet as he booked himself a second round meeting with Denis Shapovalov who saw off fellow left-hander Ugo Humbert in straight sets.
“I enjoyed it. I prepared really hard before coming here, worked hard and really wanted to go on and put a good performance out there and I feel like I did that,” said Murray after the win.
Elsewhere, Gael Monfils eased past 20-year-old Spanish wildcard Carlos Gimeno Valero 6-3, 6-0 in just 55 minutes to book a second-round meeting with world No 1 Novak Djokovic.
Monfils has never beaten Djokovic in 17 meetings but insists he is not obsessed with idea of trying to get the better of the Serb at least once.
“The guy is better than me,” said Monfils, who is contesting his first clay-court tournament of the season.
“Every match is an opportunity to win it. I try to take some lesson in everything, but I don’t really care. He can beat me tomorrow. He can beat me in Rome. He can beat at Roland Garros. Maybe I will get (there) once and that’s it. Who cares at the end?”
Italian No 10 seed Jannik Sinner squandered a 5-2 lead in the opening set and fought back from the brink in the second en route to a 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 victory over former French Open junior champion Tommy Paul of USA.
Sinner saved three match points late in the second set and broke Paul as the American was serving for the victory to force a decider, finally advancing to meet Australian Alex de Minaur in the next round.
Results from the ATP/WTA Madrid Open on Monday (x denotes seeding):
Gael Monfils (FRA) bt Carlos Gimeno Valero (ESP) 6-3, 6-0
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) bt Lloyd Harris (RSA) 7-5, 6-3
Dusan Lajovic (SRB) bt Borna Coric (CRO) 6-3 4-6 6-4
David Goffin (BEL) bt Aslan Karatsev 6-2, 7-5
Cameron Norrie (GBR x9 bt Kwon Soon-woo (KOR) 7-5 7-5
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) bt Fabio Fognini (ITA) 7-5 6-4
Diego Schwartzman (ARG x13) bt Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1
Alex de Minaur (AUS) bt Pedro Martinez (ESP) 7-6 (7/2), 1-6, 6-3
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) bt Ilya Ivashka 2-6, 6-3 7-5
Jannik Sinner (ITA x10) bt Tommy Paul (USA) 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-3
Andy Murray (GBR) bt Dominic Thiem (AUT) 6-3, 6-4
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) bt Maxime Cressy (USA) 6-2 7-6 (7/4)
Denis Shapovalov (CAN x14) bt Ugo Humbert (FRA) 7-6 (7/1), 6-3
Ons Jabeur (TUN x8) bt Belinda Bencic (SUI x11) 6-2, 3-6, 6-2
Simona Halep (ROM) bt Coco Gauff (USA x14) 6-4, 6-4
Ekaterina Alexandrova bt Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-7 (4/7), 6-0, 7-5
Amanda Anisimova (USA) bt Victoria Azarenka (x15) 6-1, 6-4
By Garrin Lambley © Agence France-Presse