BRISBANE: Former world number one Andy Murray was upbeat after making a winning start to 2019 with a straight sets victory over Australian James Duckworth in the Brisbane International on Tuesday.
The 31-year-old Scot missed 11 months of last year with a hip injury and has slumped to a world ranking of 240.
He had not played competitively since pulling out of the China Open in September and started slowly against Duckworth before overcoming the Australian 6-4, 6-3 in a touch under 90 minutes.
Murray, who didn’t appear hampered with his movement, said he could feel his touch returning as the match progressed.
“It wasn’t particularly good tennis at the beginning, but I think one of the positive things for me was kind of instinctively I came up with some shots where I was kind of reading the game quite well, which is positive for a first match,” he said.
Murray said that while he was still playing in some pain, his hip wasn’t an issue.
“I didn’t feel particularly apprehensive… about my hip as such today, just because I’ve trained on it more and been here playing practice sets with guys, and I’ve just had a lot longer to get used to it,” he said.
“When I was playing in June, July last year, my hip was pretty sore.
“I hadn’t really practised much. I hadn’t played matches for a long time, and psychologically it was difficult.
“I was concentrating more on that than actually playing the match or my tactics, whereas, today I didn’t really think about it at all — I was just concentrating on the match.”
Murray now plays fourth seed Daniil Medvedev in the second round after the Russian received a first-round bye.
Defending champion Nick Kyrgios battled past American Ryan Harrison in a rematch of last year’s final.
Kyrgios won the 2018 final easily but he was pushed all the way by Harrison on Tuesday, eventually winning 7-6 (7/5), 5-7, 7-6 (7/5) in two hours, eight minutes.
Kyrgios fired down 44 aces and Harrison 27, with the Australian just able to shade Harrison in the third set tiebreak.
The mercurial Kyrgios wasn’t happy with his groundstrokes and said he had only got through thanks to the quality of his serving.
“I was pretty poor — everything I did was pretty poor, except for my serve today,” he said.
“So I know that needs to get better. But that will come with more matches. I think the more matches I play, the more time on court I have, I think that’ll get better.”
In other matches, Denis Kudla beat fellow American Taylor Fritz 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, while Frenchman Jeremy Chardy outlasted Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.