Murray Faces Tough Return At W&S Open

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Former World No. 1 Andy Murray faces a tough draw early at the Western & Southern Open, the first event since the ATP Tour was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two-time tournament champion will play American Frances Tiafoe in the first round, marking the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting. If Murray beats the home favorite, he will face fifth seed Alexander Zverev in the second round.

Murray, who at last October’s European Open won his first ATP Tour singles title in two-and-a-half years, is still working his way back into form after undergoing a second hip surgery last January. The World No. 129 owns a 31-12 record at this ATP Masters 1000 event, which is being held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center this year due to COVID-19. This is his first tournament of 2020.

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Tiafoe, who is making his fourth Western & Southern Open main draw appearance, upset Zverev in Cincinnati three years ago. He will not look past Murray, though. Tiafoe paid Murray a big compliment on Instagram last week, commenting on the Scot’s most recent post: “Some people just made different 🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿.”

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who completed his Career Golden Masters in Cincinnati two years ago, is in the same half of the draw as defending champion Daniil Medvedev, who is seeded third.

Djokovic will play a qualifier or wild card Tommy Paul in his opening match. The first seeded opponent he could face is 15th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, the Canadian #NextGenATP Star. Felix will have his hands full in his first-round match against big-hitting Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili.

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Medvedev rallied from a set down to oust Djokovic in last year’s Cincinnati semi-finals. The Russian will begin his title defence in the second round against a qualifier.

Second seed Dominic Thiem will try to find the form that helped him to this year’s Australian Open final. The big-hitting Austrian will open against Serbian Filip Krajinovic or a qualifier. Thiem could face 2017 titlist Grigor Dimitrov in the third round.

There are several popcorn first-round matches to kick off the return to tennis. Canadian sensation Denis Shapovalov, the 12th seed, will try to extend his 2-1 ATP Head2Head series lead against 2016 Western & Southern Open champion Marin Cilic. All three of their matches have come on hard courts, with Shapovalov triumphing in their most recent match in Marseille this February in three sets.

Former World No. 3 Milos Raonic and big-serving American Sam Querrey will meet in a rematch of the 2016 Wimbledon quarter-finals, and two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson will play former World No. 14 Kyle Edmund. They have split their two previous clashes, both of which were five-setters at a major.

Main draw action at Flushing Meadows begins Saturday.

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