ANDY Murray returns to action in Rotterdam today for his first match since losing in the final of the Australian Open to Novak Djokovic.
Murray, who took a short break after his painful four-set loss to Djokovic in Melbourne, faces Nicolas Mahut in the first round of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.
Awaiting the winner in the second round will be Vasek Pospisil of Canada, who beat Philipp Kohlschreiber in the first round yesterday.
Murray had hoped to warm up for today’s tie with a doubles match yesterday, but was forced to sit it out after his partner Gillies Muller pulled out of the competition with sickness. Jamie Murray and his partner John Peers took the duo’s place and beat Roberto Bautista Agut and Joao Sousa in straight sets.
In other first round action, second seed Milos Raonic had a scare before he battled past Russian Andrey Kuznetsov. The Canadian dropped the first set on a tiebreak before digging deep to take the next two sets 6-1, 7-5.
Murray also learned yesterday that he will be joined at The Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club this summer by Lleyton Hewitt - one of only three appearances the veteran will make ahead of his farewell at next year’s Australian Open.
The two-time grand slam champion and former world No 1 announced in Melbourne last month that he anticipated the 2016 Australian Open being his final tournament. Now Hewitt has revealed he intends to play very sparingly in 2015 with a focus on the grass-court season. The 33-year-old is currently preparing for Australia’s Davis Cup World Group tie against the Czech Republic next month, and after that he will turn his attention to grass.
Queen’s has taken the unusual step of already granting four-time champion Hewitt a wild card into the tournament in June, and Wimbledon is sure to do the same should the 2002 winner require one. Hewitt said of Queen’s: “I can’t wait to get back there one more time. I’ll enjoy the grass one more time, and then finish off where it all started for me, at the Australian Open.”
Tournament director Stephen Farrow had no hesitation in guaranteeing Hewitt his place. “It took us roughly two seconds to decide to guarantee Lleyton a wild card,” said Farrow. “It is a little unconventional to award wild cards before the entry list has been finalised, but Lleyton is one of our greatest champions and we were delighted to hear that he wanted to return one more time.”
Hewitt currently shares the record of four Queen’s titles with John McEnroe, Boris Becker and Andy Roddick.
Meanwhile, the ATP has dropped its investigation into Tunisian player Malek Jaziri’s withdrawal before a possible match against an Israeli opponent, saying it was “fully satisfied” that he had a legitimate injury.
Jaziri retired from his first-round match against sixth-seeded Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan after winning the first set 6-3 at the Open Sud de France in Montpelier last week, citing an elbow injury.
Had Jaziri beaten Istomin, he would have played Israel’s Dudi Sela in the next round.
The ATP decided to investigate because of a previous incident in which Tunisia’s tennis federation ordered Jaziri to withdraw from a match against an Israeli opponent in 2013 at a second-tier tournament in Uzbekistan.
In a statement, the ATP said it spoke at length with Jaziri and tournament medical staff in Montpelier. “The ATP is fully satisfied as to the legitimacy of the player’s reasons for retiring from his match due to an elbow injury,” it said.
“Accordingly, this matter is considered closed.”
After forbidding Jaziri from facing Israel’s Amir Weintraub in the quarter-finals of the ATP Challenger tournament in Tashkent two years ago, Tunisia was banned from the 2014 Davis Cup by the ITF for “interfering with international sporting practice.”
In Montpellier, the 65th-ranked Jaziri also withdrew from doubles, where he would have faced another Israeli opponent.
He and Spanish partner Marc Lopez had been set to play Jonathan Erlich of Israel and Cermak Frantisek of the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals.