Tennis – China Open – Men’s Singles – Quarterfinals – National Tennis Center, Beijing, China – October 4, 2019. Britain’s Andy Murray reacts during the match against Dominic Thiem of Austria. REUTERS/Jason Lee
(Reuters) – Former world number one Andy Murray began his European Open campaign with a battling 6-4 7-6(4) victory over unseeded Belgian Kimmer Coppejans in Antwerp on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old Scot, who is continuing his comeback after having career-saving hip resurfacing surgery in January, was stretched by the wildcard in the second set but held his nerve to prevail in an hour and 44 minutes.
Three-times Grand Slam champion Murray won 75% of points on his first serve and converted four out of six break points to overcome his opponent, who is ranked 158 in the world, for his first ATP level victory in Europe for 16 months.
Up next for Murray is either eighth seed Pablo Cuevas or Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien, who meet in the first round on Wednesday.
Murray, who won his first ATP Tour matches since his surgery during the Asian swing and reached the quarter-finals of the China Open, is hoping to regain full match fitness before he makes his much-anticipated Grand Slam return at next year’s Australian Open.
South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo earlier rallied past Frenchman Richard Gasquet 1-6 6-3 6-4 while Feliciano Lopez beat Cameron Norrie 7-6(2) 6-4.
Also advancing were Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, France’s Gilles Simon and Italy’s Jannik Sinner.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon