|2018 US Open|
|Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 27 August-9 September Coverage: Live radio coverage on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; live text commentaries on the BBC Sport website|
Britain’s Andy Murray enjoyed a winning return to Grand Slam tennis as he fought back to beat Australia’s James Duckworth in the US Open first round.
The 31-year-old won 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 7-5 6-3 on the new Louis Armstrong Stadium at Flushing Meadows.
It was Murray’s first best-of-five-set match in 14 months, having had surgery on a long-term hip injury in January.
The Scot will play Spanish 31st seed Fernando Verdasco in the second round in New York.
“I was pumped to be back playing in a Slam again,” Murray said.
“At points in the match I didn’t play amazing. I’m not expecting to play my best tennis right now.
“But I’m happy to get through the match.”
‘I made some good moves’ – Murray
Murray, a three-time Grand Slam champion, has faced a long road to recovery after opting to have surgery, tentatively coming back during the grass-court season before deciding he still was not fit enough to play five sets at Wimbledon.
Although he had to pull out of his home Slam with a “heavy heart”, making his five-set comeback at Flushing Meadows – where he played in his first major final in 2008 and won his first Slam in 2012 – was the next best thing.
Walking out on the newly renovated court, Murray received a huge ovation – only bettered by the one which greeted the winning point.
Signs of tension were apparent as he closed in on his first Slam win since beating France’s Benoit Paire in the Wimbledon fourth round last year, a double fault at 30-15 in the final game briefly delaying his victory.
But a sharp scamper from the baseline to meet a drop volley ended in a stretching scoop over the net before a powerful first serve on match point put Duckworth on the back foot.
Murray raised both arms skywards in triumph after Duckworth pumped a forehand into the net, clenching his fist towards his watching team, which included wife Kim.
“The positive was that actually towards the end of the match, I made some quite good moves,” he said.
“Like the second to the last point of the match, I moved pretty quickly up to the drop volley.
“I maintained my serving speeds throughout the match, as well.”
Murray ‘toughs it out’ as promised
Following his injury problems, Murray is ranked 382nd in the world and, although the former number one is able to play in the US Open because of his protected ranking, being unseeded left him open to a difficult draw.
However, he was handed an opening opponent in Duckworth who is ranked lower, at 448, after suffering a catalogue of injury problems himself.
Murray was far from his best in the opening set, saving two break points early on before steadying his service game as a tie-break loomed.
Rustiness was evident in the tie-break, though. A routine forehand volley planted into the tramlines gave Duckworth an early lead and then, after fighting back on serve, Murray allowed his opponent to win three straight points for the opening set.
In the build-up, Murray spoke about having to “tough it out” over five sets – and that is exactly what he did.
After recovering to take a two sets to one lead, he lost serve in the first and fifth games of the fourth set before instantly breaking again on both occasions.
“At times it was tricky, especially early on,” he said.
“James was serving big and playing a lot of drop shots and throwing me out of rhythm, but I managed to play some good stuff at times.
“Then I made a change on the return games – started standing further back to give me more time. It allowed me to get into the rallies and that made me more comfortable.
“Apart from the fourth set, I don’t think he had many opportunities on my serve throughout the match, so that was positive.”
BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller at Flushing Meadows
Andy Murray says he now prepares himself mentally for the possibility of hip pain, and the fact he might not feel great when out on court.
But happily, in his first Grand Slam match for 411 days, Murray says he felt better than expected.
The three hour and 17-minute victory was the longest of his eight comeback matches. Murray knows there is plenty of room for improvement, but he will prepare for his second-round match against Fernando Verdasco with a light schedule.
The days of hitting for an hour and a half on his day off are gone. Conserving energy is now of greater importance to the 31-year-old on the comeback trail.