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Andy Murray celebrates return to clay with victory over Dominic Thiem in Madrid

Andy Murray (pictured) won 6-3 6-4 against Dominic Thiem (Manu Fernandez/AP)
Andy Murray (pictured) won 6-3 6-4 against Dominic Thiem (Manu Fernandez/AP)

Andy Murray made a winning return to clay as he saw off Dominic Thiem in straight sets in the first round of the Madrid Open.

The three-time grand slam champion triumphed 6-3 6-4 in an hour and 42 minutes against 2020 US Open winner Thiem, who is still seeking his first victory following his recent comeback from a wrist injury.

Murray is playing in the Spanish capital as a wildcard having reversed his decision to skip the entire clay-court season. This was his first match back on the surface in almost two years and his first win on clay since 2017.

The 34-year-old Scot broke his Austrian opponent once in each set to go 4-2 up in the first and then 2-1 ahead in the second.

He will now face Denis Shapovalov in the next round after the Canadian beat France’s Ugo Humbert 7-6(1) 6-3.

Murray, who has been working again with coach Ivan Lendl, told Amazon Prime: “I had hardly played on it (clay) for the last five years really, but I did four weeks of training on it before coming here so I felt maybe more comfortable than I usually do right at the beginning of the clay-court season and I played well.

“I thought Dominic was playing well at times, but he’s obviously just started playing again as well, so making a few more mistakes than usual.

“But I was happy with how I played and I moved particularly well and that’s something I’ve been working on a lot the last four weeks and it changes the way I play the game.”

Compatriot Cameron Norrie also moved into round two, beating Soonwoo Kwon in two tough sets.

The British number one held his nerve at key moments to edge out his South Korean opponent 7-5 7-5 in one hour and 49 minutes and now faces big-serving American John Isner.

Top seed Novak Djokovic’s opponent in round two will be Gael Monfils, who won against Carlos Gimeno Valero, while others progressing included Jannik Sinner and Diego Schwartzman, victors over Tommy Paul and Benoit Paire respectively.

In the women’s event, Simona Halep moved into the quarter-finals as she overcame Coco Gauff 6-4 6-4.

Two-time grand slam winner Halep fought back from a break down in the second set, claiming five straight games from 4-1 down in a 77-minute contest.

The triumph set up a last-eight meeting with Ons Jabeur, who defeated Belinda Bencic 6-2 3-6 6-2.

The other quarter-final will be between Amanda Anisimova and Ekaterina Alexandrova. Anisimova beat Victoria Azarenka and Alexandrova got past Marie Bouzkova.

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