NEWPORT — There are some matches Andy Murray would like to play again.
His five losses in the finals of the Australian Open come to mind. A loss to Novak Djokovic in the 2016 French Open final where Murray captured the opening set. Perhaps a handful of others sprinkled throughout what has been a memorable career.
But given the choice, Murray would accept what’s transpired between his last visit to the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Open in 2006 and his Tuesday afternoon Infosys’ opening match. The 35-year-old will be enshrined here at some point in the near future, and he still has some quality tennis left to play. A dominant 6-2, 6-0 stroll past Sam Querrey suggests Murray is more than capable of emerging again as a factor on the ATP Tour.
“In terms of my career, at that age, I didn’t know if I was going to win Grand Slams,” Murray said. “I didn’t know if I’d be able to get into the top places in the world rankings.
“I always believed in myself and worked really hard. I was always going to give myself the best chance to achieve those things. But at 19, when I came here, I probably was ranked around 40 or 50 in the world at that stage.”
Murray eventually ascended to No. 1 in what remains a golden age in the men’s game. Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have dominated the last two decades like few other professionals who came before. Murray is something like the Ringo Starr in that quartet — a proper legend in his own right, but generally listed after bandmates John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison.
Each player possesses his own trademark. Djokovic’s all-court excellence, Federer’s sheer elegance and Nadal’s unprecedented mastery of the clay will long be remembered in the sport’s history. Murray’s willingness to fight every battle and contest every point — his mental steel, playing through a debilitating hip injury that’s required multiple surgeries — set him apart even from those brilliant peers.
“It’s not really about the quality of the tennis you play,” Murray said of dealing with the gusty conditions at the Newport Casino. “It’s about finding a way to win and make it difficult for your opponent. It was really, really difficult today.”
Querrey lost all six break points he faced and connected on just 39% of his first serves. You could almost feel Murray exerting pressure on his opponent from across the net — it’s been a staple of his game since its infancy. He’s only sharpened that skillset since his last trip here, a semifinal appearance in which he took care of Querrey in straight sets along the way.
“It’s a really nice town to come to,” Murray said. “Great food, great views, found a couple of nice coffee shops. Obviously the venue has a lot of history and tradition.
“I went around the museum for the first time the other day. That was a really nice experience for me.”
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Two-time Wimbledon Champion
Murray’s future induction display here will include his pair of Wimbledon trophies, his U.S. Open title in 2012 and the pair of Olympic singles gold medals he captured in 2012 and 2016. The All England Club waited from Fred Perry’s triumph in 1936 until Murray’s straight-sets win over Djokovic in 2013 to celebrate a homegrown champion. He ended 2016 as the world’s top player, spending 41 consecutive weeks in that position.
It would also be worth a footnote to highlight how much additional glory might have been in store for Murray had he been born 10 years earlier. Only four men held the top ranking in an 18-year span between Federer’s first ascension in February 2004 and Daniil Medvedev’s rise to that spot in February of this year. The previous decade included a rather nondescript list of players like Thomas Muster, Marcelo Rios, Carlos Moya and Juan Carlos Ferrero — they won a combined three French Opens and no other major crowns.
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“I still love competing,” Murray said. “I enjoy playing in these events. But the majors are the tournaments that give you the greatest motivation to put in all the work.”
Murray accepted a wildcard entry to this event in an attempt to rise from his current No. 52 ranking. Crossing into the top 30 would give him protection as a seeded player this fall in New York or in January at Melbourne. It’s been a long road traveled since Murray lost to Antony Dupuis in his 2005 debut here — he went just 14-10 overall that season.
“If you offered me at 19 the career that I’ve had,” Murray said, “I would have taken it for sure.”
On Twitter: @BillKoch25
Round of 32
Christopher Eubanks, United States, def. Dominik Koepfer, Germany, 6-4, 7-5; Jiri Vesely (7), Czech Republic, def. Feliciano Lopez, Spain, 6-4, 6-2; Benjamin Bonzi (5), France, def. William Blumberg, United States, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
James Duckworth (8), Australia, def. Liam Broady, Britain, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2; Max Purcell, Australia, def. Adrian Mannarino, France, 6-3, 1-6, 7-5; Quentin Halys, France, def. Alexei Popyrin, Australia, 7-6 (5), 6-3.
Andy Murray (6), Britain, def. Sam Querrey, United States, 6-2, 6-0; Mitchell Krueger, United States, def. Tim van Rijthoven, Netherlands, 7-6 (7), 4-6, 6-3.
Round of 16
Steve Johnson and William Blumberg (4), United States, def. Jason Kubler and Jordan Thompson, Australia, 6-4, 3-6, 11-9.
Benjamin Bonzi, France, and Felix Auger-Aliassime, Canada, def. Peter Gojowczyk and Dominik Koepfer, Germany, 6-1, 6-4.