Andy Murray makes superb start to his Queen's Club campaign with victory over Benoit Paire
Five-time Queen's Club winner Andy Murray makes a brilliant winning start to his cinch Championship campaign against Frenchman Benoit Paire with a straight-sets win in his first competitive singles match since March; he records his first singles win at Queen's in five years
Last Updated: 15/06/21 5:44pm
Andy Murray made a superb winning start in his first singles outing since March as the former world No 1 defeated Benoit Paire at Queen's Club on Tuesday.
With Wimbledon just around the corner, Murray's tennis appears to be in good shape as the three-time Grand Slam winner made a successful return in his first singles outing on grass in three years by defeating Frenchman Paire 6-3 6-2.
Murray has struggled to return to his former level since having hip resurfacing surgery in January 2019 with niggling injuries limiting his tournament time.
"The body is old but, I did quite well with my movement today," Murray said on court after his victory.
"It's my first match on grass in three years, I've only played three or four practice sets in the build up to this, so I didn't know exactly how I was going to play or how I was going to feel. I think for a first match, it was good.
"I love it, I love playing tennis," Murray continued, before he paused due to the emotion of the occasion overcoming him.
"Obviously, competing is why you put in all of the hard work. In the last few years, I've not got to do that as much as I would have liked, so it's just great that I'm out here and able to compete again."
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He missed this year's Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19 and has not played a match since March after suffering a groin injury in his sleep and then deciding to skip the clay-court season in order to prepare for the British summer.
The Scot had voiced concerns about his fitness before the match, but the victory at the scene of five of his ATP titles was another positive step forward.
Murray could maybe not have hand-picked a more accommodating opponent in Paire, who had won only two of his previous 17 matches this year, for his latest tentative return.
The 34-year-old, currently ranked 123 in the world, took 65 minutes to dispatch the Frenchman and set up a meeting against top seed Matteo Berrettini.
Berrettini emerged victorious on his Queen's Club debut against fellow Italian Stefano Travaglia.
The world No 9 recovered from falling a break behind in both sets, winning two tie-breaks for a 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-4) victory.
"It will be great tennis for me," Murray said, about competing against Berrettini.
"He's a top player and top seed here after a realy strong French Open. I'll need to play one level up from today if I want to do well."
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Dan Evans swept into the second round with a straight-sets win over Australian youngster Alexei Popyrin.
Evans, at a career-high ranking of 25 in the world and seeded sixth, took a closely-fought opening set courtesy of a break for 5-4.
An early break in the second put the 31-year-old firmly in control and he ran out a comfortable 6-4 6-4 winner in an hour and 25 minutes.
The British No 1 said: "It was great to be back, a great atmosphere and good to be back in front of a very nice crowd. Not full, but we're getting there."
Evans, who counts world No 1 Novak Djokovic among his scalps this year, added: "That gave me a lot of confidence but you've still got to come out and win the matches.
"I was a bit nervous, to be honest, but I'm happy to come through and hopefully win a few more this week."
It was a first win for Evans at Queen's since 2014 and set up a meeting with Adrian Mannarino of France in the second round.