Andy Murray began his ATP Tour grass-court season in style on Tuesday at the BOSS OPEN in Stuttgart, where the former World No. 1 enjoyed a comfortable 6-4, 6-3 first-round win over Christopher O’Connell.
The 46-time tour-level titlist dropped the first three games of the match but soon found his rhythm, breaking the Australian qualifier O’Connell four times on his way to a 95-minute win on tournament debut at the ATP 250 event. The victory improved the Briton’s career record on grass to 111-23.
“I thought I played some good tennis at times,” said Murray after his first tour-level match since early May. “I didn’t serve my best today, obviously got off to a bit of a slow start, but once I got the break back in the first set, I played some pretty good points. I was quite solid from there, but I would like to serve a bit better.”
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Murray opted to miss much of the clay-court season to focus on his preparations for grass. Last week the two-time Wimbledon champion had his first competitive outing on the surface for 2022 at the Surbiton Trophy ATP Challenger Tour event, where he reached the semi-finals before falling to Denis Kudla.
The win lifts Murray five places to No. 63 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. A deep run on tournament debut this week in Stuttgart could see him return to the Top 50 for the first time since May 2018. He next faces seventh seed Alexander Bublik, after the Kazakh defeated Kudla 7-6(3), 7-5.
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Also on Tuesday, Dominic Stricker sprung a first-round surprise as the #NextGenATP Swiss came through a tight three-set battle with Maxime Cressy.
The 19-year-old qualifier was playing his first ATP Tour main draw match of the season against serve-and-volley specialist Crissy, but Stricker showed no nerves as he ran away with the deciding set tie-break to complete a 6-7 (2), 7-6(5), 7-6(2) win. He next faces top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The World No. 55 Marton Fucsovics staged a comeback to prevent another qualifier from advancing in Germany. The Hungarian dropped the opening set in his first tour-level meeting with Austrian Jurij Rodionov, but he claimed the only breaks in both the second and third sets to seal a 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 and set a second-round meeting with third seed Hubert Hurkacz.
In Tuesday’s doubles action, top seeds Tim Puetz and Michael Venus opened their Stuttgart campaign with a 6-2, 7-6(5) win over Tomislav Brkic and Francisco Cabral.
Puetz and Venus were in trouble in the second set as Brkic and Cabral let slip a set point when leading 5-3, but the German-New Zealand pairing held firm before sealing victory in the tie-break. Puetz is used to winning in Stuttgart — the German lifted the trophy there in 2018 alongside countryman Philipp Petzschner.
Fourth seeds Fabrice Martin and Andreas Mies also enjoyed a comfortable first-round win as they defeated all-German pairing Daniel Altmaier and Oscar Otte, 6-3, 6-4, while Rohan Bopanna and Denis Shapovalov breezed past Jonathan Erlich and Aslan Karatsev 6 -4, 6-0.