June 24, 2020 / 7:48 AM / 19 days ago

Murray makes winning return after seven-month layoff

LONDON (Reuters) - Andy Murray enjoyed a winning return to action as he beat Liam Broady in the ‘Battle of the Brits’ charity tournament at the national tennis centre in west London on Tuesday.

The twice Wimbledon champion and former world number one eased to a 6-2 6-2 victory over the British number six in his first competitive match since the Davis Cup Finals in November.

The week-long event, organised by Murray’s brother Jamie while professional tennis remains suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is being played behind closed doors with strict health protocols in place.

While there were chair umpires, players picked up their own balls and towels. The low-key setting of the event, which is raising money for Britain’s National Health Service, was a far cry from the last week’s Adria Tour exhibition tournament.

On Tuesday world number one Novak Djokovic, who helped stage the Balkan event, tested positive for COVID-19. Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, Croatia’s Borna Coric and Serbia’s Viktor Troicki also tested positive for the virus, prompting criticism of lack of social-distancing at the tournament in Serbia and Croatia.

There were also wins in London for British number one Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund on the opening day.

Murray will face Edmund in his next round-robin match.

“It was OK, I served well throughout the match. Didn’t hit the ball that well from the back of the court, wasn’t timing the ball well. But it was okay. For a first match in seven months and not been practising much, so it was alright.”

“Last time I picked up my own balls was when I was about 17. Although we do it all the time in practice.”

The ATP Tour was halted in early March as nations closed borders and imposed lockdowns to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. Last week the ATP and the women’s WTA issued revised calendars for the resumption of the circuit from August.

Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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