Wimbledon 2021 tennis - Andy Murray marks comeback with tense victory over Nikoloz Basilashvili to progress
Andy Murray got back to winning ways at Wimbledon after an absence of four years from the Grand Slam which he famously won twice. The 34-year-old Brit battled past Nikoloz Basilashvili to win through in four sets, 6-4 6-3 5-7 6-3, in his comeback match at SW19 against the 24th seed on Centre Court. It could have been a lot easier but he could not convert match points in the third set.
Britain's Andy Murray celebrates after beating Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili in their men's singles first round match on the first day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 28, 2021
But after the players left the court and the roof was closed for the evening, Murray returned to finish the job as he closed out a challenging but successful comeback match to reach the second round.
The two-time champion had limped off the same court following a quarter-final defeat to Sam Querrey in 2017 - then as the top seed - and had not been back since with hip surgeries in 2018 and 2019, so this was a moment of jubilation and relief.
John McEnroe, on commentary for the BBC, had described Murray's performance up until his collapse at the end of the third set as a "beautiful display of grass-court tennis, along with an excellent game plan that has just befuddled Basilashvili".
Britain's Andy Murray reacts after losing the third set to Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili during their men's singles first round match on the first day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships
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"I don't believe what I just saw!" the American tennis legend exclaimed as Basilashvili celebrated.
"You have to look at the glass half full and give credit to the guy for coming back, but it looked like he quit a few games earlier and you can't believe this guy is competing on the Centre Court at Wimbledon.
"He's playing Andy Murray and he's got one foot out of the door, and the next thing you know, he gets a break back. Second break, okay. Third break - you lose that, and you're still in it.
"He lost his serve four times in a row. He hadn't lost his serve before! What in God's name did we just see here?! Can someone explain this to me? How in the world did he just win that set?"
Thankfully for Murray, he was able to gather himself and regain some poise to respond and close out the match. The break for the roof to be closed on Centre Court certainly appeared to help give him that reset.
Andy Murray of Great Britain celebrates victory after winning his Men's Singles First Round match against Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia during Day One of The Championships - Wimbledon 2021 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 28, 2021
Image credit: Getty Images
The atmosphere only got more intense as the fans willed Murray on to victory, and he finally sealed the deal with his fourth match point at nearly 10pm UK time to give him and his camp a great deal of relief. With his comeback win now in the bag, he has nothing to lose in front of his home fans.
The 34-year-old will next take on a qualifier as France's Arthur Rinderknech and Oscar Otte of Germany prepare to battle it out in their opening-round match. A third-round clash with Canada's Denis Shapovalov - the 10th seed - could then await.