Andy Murray claimed the biggest win of his comeback and a place in the last 16 of the Western and Southern Open on Monday by taking out self-destructing fifth seed Alexander Zverev 6-3 3-6 7-5.
Murray offered hope he was on the right track after his injury woes with a tidy first-round win over Frances Tiafoe on Saturday but it is Monday’s win over the big-hitting German that will provide a huge confidence boost in the run-up to the US Open that starts next week.
Neither player will include the contest in their career highlight reels, particularly a scrappy third set that was riddled with unforced errors and momentum swings.
Murray jumped ahead 4-1 in the third but was left mumbling and scolding himself as Zverev broke the Briton twice on his way to sweeping the next four games and taking a 5-4 lead.
But serving for the match Zverev double-faulted three times to gift Murray a break and extend the match.
Murray then held serve and finished off the crumbling German, with the help of two more double faults, with a final break to register his first win over at top-10 ranked opponent since 2017.
“It was a big one to get through,” said Murray. “I’m satisfied to get through it against a top player having not played for such a long time and I get another opportunity to compete again tomorrow.
“This will give me an idea of where my body is at,” said Murray, a past winner of the tournament, which is normally held in Cincinnati but was moved this year in order to get players inside a ‘bubble’ ahead of the US Open.
Next up for Murray is Milos Raonic, who advanced with a 6-3 7-5 victory over Dan Evans.
Novak Djokovic had withdrawn from a doubles match due to a neck issue and showed signs of discomfort in a 7-6(2) 6-4 win over Ricardas Berankis.
“It’s getting better … it’s not yet where I’d like it to be but it’s heading in the right direction,” said Djokovic, who meets Tennys Sandgren next.
Filip Krajinovic stunned second seed Dominic Thiem 6-2 6-1 and next plays Marton Fucsovics, who beat Grigor Dimitrov 7-5 4-6 6-2.