Andy Murray admits he is in a “much better place” as he continued his comeback from injury on Wednesday, pairing up with brother Jamie to progress to the second round at the Citi Open in Washington.
The brothers were playing together for the first time in almost three years and beat French pair Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the first round of the men’s doubles, clinching a 6-4, 7-6(7), 10-5 victory.
The Scots will face either Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies or Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus in the second round.
Murray’s fourth men’s doubles appearance of the 2019 season is the latest step in his recovery from hip surgery and he said: “I’m in a much better place, now than I was last year.
“Even though I was winning singles matches, physically I just feel so much better. I have no pain. It’s not restricting me in any of the shots that I’m hitting. I’m still maybe a little bit slower.
“I’m hoping that’s something that will come back with time, but… I didn’t know how much more I was going to be playing after here (at the Citi Open) last year. And yeah, to come back and be competing and be pain free is brilliant.”
Naomi Osaka admits she has not enjoyed playing tennis since winning the Australian Open and has described the last few months as the worst of her life.
The 21-year-old won her second consecutive grand slam title at Melbourne Park in January, making her the new world number one, but expectation has weighed heavily ever since.
A shock split from coach Sascha Bajin immediately after the Australian Open was another factor, and Osaka has not reached the final of any tournament since.
The Japanese player wrote on Twitter: “The last few months for me have been really rough tennis wise, but thankfully I’m surrounded by people I love and who love me back (hopefully hahaha). In that regard I’m very thankful for them because whenever things go wrong I blame myself 100%.
“I have a tendency to shut down because I don’t want to burden anyone with my thoughts or problems but they taught me to trust them and not take everything on by myself.
“Unexpectedly, though, the worst months of my life have also had some of the best moments cause I’ve met new people and been able to do things that I’ve never even considered doing before.
“That being said I can honestly reflect and say I probably haven’t had fun playing tennis since Australia and I’m finally coming to terms with that while relearning that fun feeling.”
I’ll leave this here just in case you feel like reading a book lol. pic.twitter.com/UD512lBRP1— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@Naomi_Osaka_) August 1, 2019
Osaka’s grand slam winning run ended with a third-round loss to Katerina Siniakova at the French Open, while the grass season saw her lose her number one ranking to Ashleigh Barty and crash out in the first round of Wimbledon to Yulia Putintseva.
Following that loss, Osaka answered a few questions in a monosyllabic press conference before cutting it short, telling the moderator she was about to cry.
She will return to action at the Rogers Cup in Toronto next week, and Osaka said: “I’ve put so much weight on the results of my matches instead of learning from them, which is what I “normally” do.
“Having this time to reflect and think (from losing in the first round lololol), I’ve learned a lot about myself and I feel like I grew so much as a person in the past year(s) so I’m really excited what the future looks like on and off the court.”
Andy Murray and brother Jamie battled past French pair Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin at the Citi Open in Washington.
The former world number one has so far been restricted to doubles action since returning to the game following his hip resurfacing operation in January, and played in the mixed event alongside Serena Williams at Wimbledon.
Murray, who has suggested his singles return may be closer than he originally thought, produced a composed display alongside his brother as they progressed to the quarter-finals with a gutsy 6-4 6-7 (7) 10-5 win in a tie-break decider.
A return to the hard courts in August appears in Murray’s sights, but that could yet be delayed until after the US Open.
The 32-year-old’s last grand slam appearance was at the Australian Open in Melbourne, where he lost to Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round.
Pairing with his brother was not a new partnership, the Murrays having played together at the Rio Olympics and also formed a prolific partnership during Great Britain’s 2015 Davis Cup victory.
Jamie Murray, meanwhile, was looking to defending his ATP Tour title won in Washington last year with Bruno Soares.
The opening set went with serve before the Murray’s pressure told in game 10 to gain a crucial break.
The match remained a tight affair as the French pair held to force a tie-break.
The Murrays saw two match point chances missed having been 6-4 up, the second with a wide return from the former world number one.
Some more fine returns from the British duo saw another opportunity to break for the match, but again the Frenchmen responded to level at 7-7 before closing out to force a 10-point tie-break decider.
Mahut and Roger-Vasselin then appeared to be in control after moving 5-3 ahead, only for the Murray brothers to respond magnificently and lead 8-5.
Jamie Murray then served for the match, with Andy’s crosscourt forehand setting up another opportunity to take a hard-earned victory, which was secured when the return went into the net.