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Murray isn't expecting to make waves on big return

 

By Jonathan Veal

Nick Kyrgios afforded himself a smile when it was confirmed he would be the man on the other side of the net for Andy Murray's long-awaited comeback.

Kyrgios and Murray are good friends and they go head-to-head in the Fever-Tree Championships at Queen's Club today as the Scot finally returns after 11 months out with a hip injury.

It will be 342 days since Murray last took to the court in a competitive match, a Wimbledon quarter-final loss to Sam Querrey, and Australian Kyrgios is excited to be the man playing him.

"I just smiled when I saw the draw," Kyrgios said. "I am excited, one of my better mates on tour. It's good to see him back.

"I am looking forward to going out and playing but to see him healthy is the main thing, I think he is awesome for the sport.

"We kept in touch a little bit, but he's a busy man. The last thing he wants is to see me blowing up his phone. He probably had a lot to deal with and a lot of decisions to make. It's just good to see him back."

All eyes will be on how Murray fares physically after such a lengthy break and Kyrgios admits he does not know what to expect.

"I'm going to play like I always play," he said. "I want to serve big and play big and try and win. I'm going to go out there and do the same thing. If I win, I win. If I lose, I lose.

"I don't really know (what to expect). Obviously I know he's going to make a lot of balls. He loves playing on grass. I know how he plays."

Murray came through another practice session yesterday on the adjacent court to Kyrgios. And he pulled up well, playing a practice set with American Reilly Opelka which Murray competed well in.

Despite that, he does not expect to beat the Australian today.

He said: "I still think I'll feel nervous when I get back out there just because you want to perform and play well.

"In terms of my expectations, they are extremely low. I'm not expecting to win against Kyrgios - I don't think it would be right to think that way after such a long time out, but obviously I want to be competitive.

"I don't want to just go out there, roll over and play badly. I want to try and play well and feel good on the court, but my expectations are pretty low."

Meanwhile, Cameron Norrie knows he was second best as he was given the runaround by Stan Wawrinka in the first round of the Fever-Tree Championships.

The 22-year-old has made good progress over the last 12 months, surging to his current high ranking of 79th, but was found wanting against the three-time Grand Slam champion, who won 6-2 6-3 in only 56 minutes.

And Norrie feels the difference in serving between the two players was key.

"I think he served really well," Norrie said. "I donated him my serve in two, three games, and that was it basically. But he managed his serve very well and it was tough for me to get into the rallies against him.

"I didn't serve that great. I think I served like 40% or something, so it was really low for me.

"It was pretty surprising. I have been serving so well in the days leading up. I wasn't quite hitting that wide spot on the ad. That's been my go-to serve. That was basically what let me down."

Fellow Briton Jay Clarke did not fare much better as he was beaten by Sam Querrey.

The 19-year-old, who was given a wildcard into the tournament, competed well with last year's Wimbledon semi-finalist but lost 6-3 6-3.

As well as Murray, Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans are the British interest today.

Edmund is up against American Ryan Harrison and Evans, making his ATP Tour return following a drugs ban, faces Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

Edmund was a winner in the doubles yesterday, teaming up with compatriot Neal Skupski to beat Grigor Dimitrov and Harrison, while defending champions Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares won against French pair Mannarino and Fabrice Martin.

Belfast Telegraph

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