Murray beats Nishioka in five sets at U.S. Open; Serena Williams advances

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Andy Murray returns a shot to Yoshihito Nishioka during the first round of the US Open tennis championships, Tuesday. Photo: AP

Andy Murray saved a match point and put together his 10th career comeback from two sets down to win his first Grand Slam contest in nearly 20 months.

The 2012 U.S. Open champion, still working his way back from a pair of operations on his right hip, overcame 13 double-faults and a big deficit to beat Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), 6-4 in 4 hours, 39 minutes.

Murray is a former No. 1-ranked player whose resume also includes two Wimbledon championships and two Olympic singles gold medals.

The 33-year-old had hip surgery in January 2018, then again in January 2019, shortly after a first-round loss at the Australian Open. He figured he would need to retire from tennis.

But Murray eventually returned to the tour last season. A pelvic problem — combined with the sport’s coronavirus-caused hiatus — kept him off the tour from last November until August.

Murray faced a match point Tuesday while down 6-5 in the fourth set, but he saved it with a 127 mph service winner.

Sumit Nagal became the first Indian man to win a match at the U.S. Open in seven years. The 23-year-old resident of New Delhi beat Bradley Klahn 6-1, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. Nagal came in ranked No. 124 in the world.

Sam Querrey was knocked out of the first round of the U.S. Open by a player who missed more than two years because of a hip injury. Andrey Kuznetsov beat Querrey 6-4, 7-5 (6), 6-2 to complete the long comeback, getting his first tour-level win since 2017. The Russian returned to play last month at a Prague Challenger event and lost his only match after a two-year, seven-month layoff because of the hip.

Kuznetsov was ranked No. 39 in 2016 before the hip problems sidetracked his career. He’s the first unranked player to win a Grand Slam match since Nicolas Kiefer at Wimbledon in 2007.

In women’s action, Serena Williams began her latest attempt to win a 24th Grand Slam singles trophy by beating Kristie Ahn in the first round.

The two Americans split the first 10 games before Williams pulled away to win 7-5, 6-3. The victory was her 102nd at the tournament, breaking the tie she held with Chris Evert for the most by a woman in the Open era.

Williams hit 13 aces and lost only six points on her first serve.

Williams, who turns 39 this month, has won the tournament six times and has been runner-up each of the past two years. She’s seeded No. 3 and hoping to tie Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.

Meanwhile, two seeded men at the U.S. Open — No. 2 Dominic Thiem and No. 32 Adrian Mannarino — have been fined because someone in their entourage violated the tournament’s COVID-19 protocols.

Mannarino was docked $2,500 for unsportsmanlike conduct, and Thiem was fined $1,500.

Mannarino has acknowledged he is part of a group of players who were in contact with Benoit Paire, the only U.S. Open entrant to test positive for the coronavirus so far. That group was placed under additional restrictions in case they might have been exposed to the virus by Paire.

The U.S. Tennis Association specified that Thiem’s entourage violated the rule requiring universal masking. There was no explanation of what exactly Mannarino’s entourage did wrong.

The only two fines for female players announced so far were $3,000 each for Paula Badosa and Arantxa Rus for getting coaching help, which is not allowed at Grand Slam tournaments.

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