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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Kyrgios spoils Murray's return at Queen's as Djokovic sets up Dimitrov clash

Former world No 1 played his first competitive match in nearly a year but it ended in a narrow defeat

Andy Murray and Nick Kyrgios greet each other at the net following their first round meeting at Queen's Club. Matthew Stockman / Getty Images
Andy Murray and Nick Kyrgios greet each other at the net following their first round meeting at Queen's Club. Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

Former world No 1 Andy Murray made his long-awaited return to competitive tennis on Tuesday but his comeback ended in a first round defeat to Australian Nick Kyrgios.

Murray, who has been sidelined with a hip injury for the past 11 months, delighted the fans at Queen's Club in London where he finally returned to action, but after a bright start, the three-time grand slam champion fell to a 2-6, 7-6, 7-5 defeat to world No 21 Kyrgios.

Given his lengthy time away, there were few expectations on Murray heading in to this first round tie, but the 31-year-old Scot took control by breaking twice in the opening set.

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Kyrgios appeared disengaged for much of the early part of the match, but switched on in time to take the second set tie-break. From that point, it was the 23-year-old Australian who looked the more likely to win the match, but Murray dug in throughout the decider before eventually succumbing to the third match point.

Earlier, Novak Djokovic made a strong start to his Wimbledon preparations with a 6-2, 6-1 demolition of Australian qualifier John Millman.

Djokovic is a ranked No 22 in the world after a surprise French Open quarter-final defeat to Italian Marco Cecchinato extended his tough run in 2018.

The 31-year-old Serb, hampered by an elbow injury last year, has failed to reach the semi-finals in any of his last five grand slam appearances.

With Wimbledon starting on July 2, Djokovic was desperate to improve his 14-8 record in 2018, and, in his first appearance at Queen's since 2010, he was quickly in the groove as he romped to a first round win in 65 minutes.

Breaks in the fifth and seventh games sealed a one-sided first set.

Barely tested by the world No 63, Djokovic broke twice in the first five games of the second set to see off Millman with ease.

"Look, it's not the first nor the last match that I lost in my life. I know how to deal with these particular situations," Djokovic said when asked how he handled the French Open setback.

"I had to take some time off the court, you know, recharge the batteries physically and mentally. I went hiking with my wife with no kids for five days, if you really want to know.

"It was a wonderful time after two years with not having a break only with her, so we managed to do that. We were very far away from any tennis court, in nature, and it was the best way to clear the mind."

A sterner test lies in wait for Djokovic in the second round against 2017 ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov.

World No 5 Dimitrov beat Bosnia's Damir Dzumhur 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 in his opening match as the Bulgarian bids to win Queen's for the second time.

In other first round action, former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic was leading 6-1, 3-1 when Indian qualifier Yuki Bhambri retired due to a knee injury.

Raonic, who reached the Stuttgart final last weekend, was scheduled to face is reigning Queen's champion Feliciano Lopez, who defeat Belgium's David Goffin 6-3, 6-7, 6-3, but the Canadian withdrew from the tournament with a shoulder injury.

South African third seed Kevin Anderson suffered a surprise 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 defeat by Argentina's Leonardo Mayer, while french qualifier Julien Benneteau beat former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.