Andy Murray wins Queens Club opener in 1000th match of career

Andy Murray wins Queen’s Club opener in 1,000th match of career

Andy Murray made a winning start to his Queen’s Club farewell with a milestone victory over Australian world number 48 Alexei Popyrin.

The 37-year-old, a record five-time champion in west London, picked up his first ATP win since March in the 1,000th match of his career.

Yet as with so many of the previous 999, Murray did not make life easy for himself.

The former world number one dropped the second set and appeared to be struggling physically, grimacing after every serve.

But he hit back in the third, a vintage cross-court winner and fist pump lifting the crowd as he brought up break point before dispatching it with a clinical backhand on his way to a 6-3 3-6 6-3 win in one hour and 51 minutes.

Murray, set to retire either after Wimbledon or the Olympics this summer, said: “I’ve not got too many wins this year, it’s been a difficult season, and I did well to come through in the end.

“Any win you can get is important, that’s why we play. With Wimbledon a few weeks away I want to get some matches in my legs and some confidence. It’s great to get another win here.”

Murray has struggled with an ankle injury and a back issue this year to add to the fact that he is still competing at the top level with a metal hip.

He added: “I’ve felt better! But it was enough today.

“My mum told me it was my 1,000th match and that’s a lot of matches, a lot of wear and tear on the body and it’s not easy, but I managed to push through it.”

Jack Draper won his first match as the new British number one – and set up a box-office clash with Carlos Alcaraz.

Draper, who claimed his first career title in Stuttgart on Sunday, was a comfortable 6-3 6-2 winner against Argentinian Mariano Navone in less than an hour.

“It’s been amazing, the last week’s been incredible,” he said. “It’s an amazing feeling to be back here after two years, I was injured last year and couldn’t play.

“I’m incredibly honoured and privileged to be in this position and I’m going to keep pushing to get more results.”

Draper faces the ultimate test of where his game is at when he takes on defending champion and three-time grand-slam winner Alcaraz in the last 16 on Thursday.

“Look, we all know how good Carlos is,” he added. “I think it’s an amazing match to test where I am. It will be a great match-up, a great atmosphere and I can’t wait.”

Alcaraz has won their two previous meetings, the second in Indian Wells last year when Draper had to retire through injury.

The Spaniard said: “I think a lefty player is going to be difficult here on grass. I know he’s playing great tennis. He’s coming here from winning a tournament. So I know he’s playing really well on grass.

“I think his game suits grass, as well, with a big serve. I think he moves well and is hitting good shots, so it’s going to be a good challenge for me being my second match this year on grass.”

There was further British success for wild card Billy Harris.

The 29-year-old from Nottingham picked up the biggest win of his career by beating Argentine world number 32 Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-4 3-6 6-3.

Harris will face French qualifier Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard, who was a surprise winner against American fifth seed Ben Shelton.

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