Murray outfights Edmund, Zverevs to meet at ATP/WTA Washington

by Jim SLATER
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Andy Murray of Britain returns a shot to compatriot Kyle Edmund on day five of the Citi Open, at the Rock Creek Tennis Center in Washington, DC, on August 1, 2018

Three-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray collected the biggest victory of his injury comeback on Wednesday at the ATP and WTA Washington Open while defending champion Alexander Zverev booked a matchup with his older brother.

Murray, sidelined by a right hip injury for 11 months until returning in June, ousted fourth seed Kyle Edmund 7-6 (7/4), 1-6, 6-4 in an all-British matchup to reach the third round of the hardcourt tuneup for the US Open.

"That has been my best win since I started playing again," Murray said. "It's a great win for me. It'll give me more confidence going forward."

World number three Zverev defeated Tunisia's Malek Jaziri 6-2, 6-1, to send the 21-year-old German top seed into his first ATP match against 30-year-old Mischa Zverev, the 15th seed who beat American Tim Smyczek 6-2, 7-6 (9/7).

"We played the final of Wimbledon a lot of times in our backyard," Alex Zverev said. "I was 12. He was 22. I don't think I ever won. But this is on hardcourt."

On a day when reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens was ousted by Germany's Andrea Petkovic and Australian Nick Kyrgios withdrew with a sore left hip, Murray stole the show with an impressive victory.

"Hopefully my body will adapt to the matches and get back to what it's supposed to be doing," Murray said.

"As the weeks progress, I hope to have more days like today where the pressure and the expectations all grow."

Former world number one Murray, now ranked 832nd, outlasted his 18th-ranked rival, breaking on a forehand return winner to advance after two hours and 32 minutes.

"Now I have to get my body to play that way consistently and work on getting better with every match," Murray said.

The 31-year-old Scotsman, who unleashed a primal scream and flurry of fist pumps after winning his opener, wiped away sweat this time before eventually pointing to the heavens, punching the air with his right fist and pumping his fist with satisfaction.

"Much better in terms of the way I played," Murray said. "Got a lot more points off my forehand. I was able to be more aggressive. I wanted to dictate more points and be inside the baseline, especially on the main points and particularly in the third set.

"I was less nervous. I increased my intensity at the end of the second set. I thought I did that well."

Romania's 93rd-ranked Marius Copil, who ousted French 14th seed Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-4, will face Murray on Thursday for a quarter-final berth.

- No. 3 Stephens stumbles -

Third-ranked Stephens lost to 91st-rated Andrea Petkovic 2-6, 6-4, 6-2. Stephens, who won the Miami Open in March, made a run to the French Open semi-finals but stumbled early in her first hardcourt stop before defending her first Grand Slam title.

"Hopefully some things will connect in the next few weeks coming into the US Open," Stephens said.

Petkovic, down a set and a break, rallied and won the final four games to reach the quarter-finals, her first victory over a top-10 foe since beating then-number five Garbine Muguruza at Doha in 2016.

"It's definitely a confidence boost," Petkovic said.

Japanese third seed Naomi Osaka, ranked 17th, is the only top-45 player remaining in the women's draw.

- Injured Kyrgios 'gutted' -

Kyrgios, ranked 17th, tweeted he was "gutted" to withdraw over the same injury that caused him to retire from an Atlanta Open quarter-final last week.

"I haven't had enough time to be ready," Kyrgios said. "The physio recommended a couple of days of rest, rehab and treatment. I've got ample time for it to settle down before Toronto.

"It's disappointing. But at this stage I can't risk aggravating the injury. Last year I wasn't healthy at the US Open so I want to be right for that."

Japanese seventh seed Kei Nishikori beat US qualifier Donald Young 6-3, 6-4 just before rain washed out the night's final five matches, including US second seed John Isner's second-rounder against compatriot Noah Rubin.

Andy Murray of Britain returns a shot to compatriot Kyle Edmund on day five of the Citi Open, at the Rock Creek Tennis Center in Washington, DC, on August 1, 2018

Kei Nishikori of Japen returns a shot to Donald Young of the US on day five of the Citi Open, at the Rock Creek Tennis Center in Washington, DC, on August 1, 2018