NEW YORK-Former champion Andy Murray produced an astonishing fightback to outlast Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 4-6 4-6 7-6(5) 7-6(4) 6-4 in his long-awaited return to Grand Slam singles action in the U.S. Open first round on Tuesday. 

The 33-year-old Briton, contesting a singles match at a major for the first since the 2019 Australian Open, appeared to be heading for an early exit as a fearless Nishioka outplayed him for two sets on a virtually empty Arthur Ashe Stadium. Yet as he has so often done throughout his career Murray simply refused to accept defeat. Desperately trying to spark himself into life, Murray recovered from a break down in the third set and saved a match point late in the fourth. 

At the start of the fifth set he required treatment on his battered toes and again slipped a break behind before dredging his tank to finally crush 49th-ranked Nishioka’s spirit and claim victory in four hours 38 minutes. It was Murray’s 10th win from two sets down and showed that despite undergoing two hip surgeries, he remains one of the sport’s great warriors. Murray will have to recover quickly as his next opponent could be Canadian 15th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime. 

CLIJSTERS FALLS TO ALEXANDROVA IN SECOND COMEBACK AT US OPEN

Three-time champion Kim Clijsters fell at the first hurdle in her second comeback at the US Open when Ekaterina Alexandrova rallied for a 3-6 7-5 6-1 victory to reach the second round. The Belgian made a blistering start to her first singles match at Flushing Meadows for eight years but was ultimately well beaten by the Russian 21st seed. 

Serena Williams and second seed Sofia Kenin flew the American flag on day two of the US Open, while Garbine Muguruza also made a winning start in New York. Former world number one and third seed Williams overcame Kristie Ahn in straight sets in the first round at Flushing Meadows. Australian Open champion Kenin outclassed Yanina Wickmayer behind closed doors. Muguruza – the 10th seed – topped Nao Hibino but Venus Williams suffered her first opening-round loss at the US Open.