Sport

Andy Murray battles past Frances Tiafoe to reach the European Open second round

Former world No 1 Andy Murray battled past American Frances Tiafoe in a three-hour 45-minute marathon to reach the second round of the European Open in Antwerp.

Murray, winner of the tournament in 2019 on his comeback from hip surgery, progressed through an epic contest 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (8-6).

It was the longest best-of-three-set match of 2021, breaking the mark set by Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Barcelona Open final.

The Brit was dead on his feet after winning the longest best-of-three-set match of 2021

‘I don’t think I’ve ever played a match like that,’ Murray said in his on-court interview.

‘I think it’s the longest three-set match I’ve played by quite a distance and I’m tired right now.

‘Nowadays obviously my body is old now. I’ve played a lot of matches on the Tour. I don’t mind playing long matches, but that was taking it to another level.’

Murray next faces second seed Diego Schwartzman for a place in the quarter-finals.

Earlier, fifth seed Reilly Opelka had made short work of fellow American Jenson Brooksby, defeating the qualifier 6-4 6-4 to move into the second round.

Murray beat Tiafoe (pictured) 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (8-6) during an enthralling spectacle

Sixth seed Alex De Minaur, though, suffered an unexpected straight-sets loss as he was beaten 6-4 6-0 by American qualifier Brandon Nakashima.

Elsewhere, Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen came from behind to defeat Frenchman Benoit Paire 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 while Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich beat Australian Jordan Thompson 6-3 6-3.

Italian Lorenzo Musetti beat compatriot Gianluca Mager in straight sets to secure a second-round match against top seed, and fellow countryman, Jannik Sinner.

There were also first-round wins for Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, who came through three sets against Albert Ramos-Vinolas, and Hungarian world number 39 Marton Fucsovics.