LONDON (Reuters) - Andy Murray’s long-awaited return to competitive tennis ended in defeat by Nick Kyrgios at Queen’s Club on Tuesday but there were plenty of positives in his 2-6 7-6(4) 7-5 loss.
The 31-year-old Scot only gave himself the green light to play the grasscourt event on Saturday, saying he had zero expectations going into his first tournament since losing in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon last year.
Murray, who had right hip surgery in January, lacked match sharpness but his timing and, more importantly, his movement generally looked assured as he fought tenaciously to try to stem a stirring Kyrgios comeback.
Having saved match points at 4-5 in the decider, Murray looked as though he might squeeze home but Kyrgios, distracted and error-strewn in the early stages, hung on for a first win at the sixth attempt against the former world number one.
A compelling two hour, 39 minute tussle full of dynamic shot-making from both men ended with a Murray double-fault.
“It was nice to finally get a win over him but I can’t really count it,” Kyrgios, who has also had injury problems to contend with this year, said on court.
Earlier, second seed Grigor Dimitrov survived a tough first-round workout against Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur to set up a second-round clash with former world number one Novak Djokovic.
The 27-year-old Bulgarian was edged out in a second-set tiebreak but eventually prevailed 6-3 6-7(4) 6-3, sealing victory with an ace.
Djokovic, playing at the prestigious London event for the first time since 2010 after being handed a late wildcard, outclassed Australian John Millman 6-2 6-1.
The Serb has fallen to 22 in the ATP rankings after 12 months disrupted by an elbow injury, but the three-times Wimbledon champion looked sharp against qualifier Millman.
He was briefly held up when an alarm went off in the grounds but was far too good for Millman, finishing with a flourish.
“It’s one of the most beautiful courts to play on and it’s good to be back on the grass,” Djokovic said on court.
“I’ve struggled a bit in the last year and a half and that has taken a bit of confidence out of me but I’m trying to get that back and today was perfect.”
Dimitrov, champion in 2014, made a reasonably assured start and said he was relieved to avoid having his Wimbledon preparations cut short in what was a tricky opener.
“I was a bit rusty obviously and need to brush up on a few things and come back and get a bit better,” Dimitrov said.
“I just want to play as many matches as possible on grass. It’s a tough field here and you have to be on the edge every single round.”
Third seed Kevin Anderson fell at the first hurdle, losing to Argentine Leonardo Mayer in three sets while eight seed Tomas Berdych also went out to Julien Benneteau.
Milos Raonic reached the second round after Indian opponent Yuki Bhambri retired injured in a match where the Canadian also suffered an injury in the final game. Raonic then pulled out of the tournament after being told the extent of the muscle strain.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Alison Williams and Christian Radnedge