Abu Dhabi: British number one and Wimbledon champion Andy Murray won his first competitive match since returning from a back injury by beating Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3, 6-4 in the fifth-place play-off at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at Zayed Sports City on Friday.
Murray had opened his season on Boxing Day with defeat to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his first proper match since helping Great Britain beat Croatia to reach the Davis Cup World Group in September.
However, unlike in the first match against the Frenchman where he looked a bit rusty, Murray was free-flowing in his rallies and moved with ease on a fast court. This is a clear indication that the Briton is gaining ground with every match and, in all probability, should peak in time for the Australian Open next month.
He broke Wawrinka in the sixth game of the opening set, but the latter got back into the match immediately with a break in the next game. However, Murray remained undeterred and came up with a break in the eighth by coming hard on Wawrinka’s serve to wrap up the first set at 6-3.
The second set went with serve until the fifth game and, once again, Murray took command with a break in the sixth. He was also on match point at 5-3 but Wawrinka saved it with a forehand winner. Murray then served out the match to register his first win since his comeback.
“I didn’t feel that bad when I got up today, which was a great positive because we finished very late yesterday. Playing in heat also helps when you are coming back from an injury. Heat makes a good difference. It was nice and I wanted to get as much practice as possible ahead of the Grand Slam,” said the 26-year-old, who was immediately on the side court to train soon after the match.
Murray has also opted to play in the doubles in Doha in a few days’ time partnering with Nenad Zimonju of Serbia and that might a take a toll on his body with most of the doubles matches lined up immediately after the singles. But the Scot felt he had no choice but to do that with the Australia Open fast approaching.
“I will have to play five-setters in few weeks’ time. The only way to get used to that is by spending time on court and yes, it will be a bit hard on the body. My body will be stiff but we have done everything right in training. I can get back in good condition only by playing matches and spending more time on court,” added Murray.
Wawrinka, who had ended Murray’s US Open defence in September with victory in the quarter-finals, said: “I can only smile and say I’m happy to be back on tour. It was the perfect conditioning that I was looking forward to so that I can get ready for the season ahead.”