In his first match for virtually a year, former world #1 and three-time Major champion Andy Murray takes on the enigmatic and talented Australian Nick Kyrgios on the grass courts at Queen’s Club. The Scotsman’s ranking has fallen to 156th in the world on account of his lack of activity, but he will hope a good run at Queen’s could set him up for a promising Wimbledon. But Kyrgios, despite some injury problems of his own, is a dangerous opponent indeed. Who will come out on top?
History is at least in Murray’s favour ahead of this match. The pair have met five times over the course of their careers and Murray has one all five matches, dropping just one set in the process. Their first match came in 2014 in Toronto at the Rogers Cup with Murray advancing a comfortable 6-2 6-2 victor. That was followed by a straight sets victory in the Australian Open quarterfinals in 2015 with Murray disappointing the Australian crowd with a 6-3 7-6 6-3 win.
They would go on to meet twice more at the Slams that year, first in Paris in the third round where Murray dominated Kyrgios to win 6-4 6-2 6-3, going on to reach the semifinals. When they met again in the late summer at the US Open Kyrgios won his first set against Murray, but fell to a 5-7 3-6 6-4 1-6 defeat all the same. Their most recent clash came at Wimbledon in the fourth round in 2016, where Murray advanced a 7-5 6-1 6-4 winner.
Last time out
Murray hasn’t taken to the court since falling to Sam Querrey in the quarterfinals in five sets at Wimbledon last year, 6-3 4-6 7-6 1-6 1-6. The Briton was clearly pained throughout that match by a troublesome hip, and he missed the rest of the year as a result. An attempted comeback at the Australian Open was aborted with hip surgery required which ruled him out of competition for the rest of the early season hard court events and the entire clay court season.
Kyrgios has played rather more recently, despite also missing out on a number of tournaments, including much of the clay court season. But he began his grass court season early, playing in the doubles at the Surbiton Challenger, although he and his partner Jackson Withrow lost first round. He then played in the singles in Stuttgart, defeating Maximilian Marterer and Feliciano Lopez in three sets to reach the semifinals. There he pushed Roger Federer to a deciding set tiebreak, but lost 7-6 2-6 6-7.
How do they match up?
At the peak of their powers, this would have pitted one of the very best defenders against one of the best attacking talents in the game. But after such a long period out, how close Murray will be to his best or even a level good enough to win on Tour is uncertain. But if he is to defeat Kyrgios, he will need his returning skills to be close to what they were when he was regularly winning titles, including Slams, for Kyrgios is amongst the most dangerous servers on Tour.
It’s hard to see this match going the way that the fans at Queen’s Club would like it to. Kyrgios surely has too much power and too much variety for Murray to handle at such an early stage in his comeback. Indeed, he may well be happy just to get out on court and feel what it is like to be in a competitive environment again, and hopefully, feel comfortable with his movement. But victory will be beyond him. Kyrgios in straight sets.