Andy Murray returned to the ATP Tour with a defeat at the Fever-Tree Championships, showing no signs of ill health as he went down fighting 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 to Nick Kyrgios.
The former world number one had been out for almost a year with a hip injury, last playing at Wimbledon, yet an expectant crowd saw a surprisingly polished performance at Queen's Club as he made his comeback.
Although Murray's display was not enough to progress to the second round of the tournament, it certainly offered cause for optimism after a wretched 12 months - particularly in the opening set.
Frustration set in by the end of an encounter that lasted over two-and-a-half hours but, with Wimbledon just around the corner again, the three-time grand slam winner's confidence will undoubtedly be boosted.
Murray had spoken beforehand of his "very low" expectations and yet, after a testing start, the Briton broke through the first time he was able to put real pressure on Kyrgios' serve, profiting from consecutive double faults.
And as Murray kicked on, Kyrgios seemed to fade, the first set ended by another double fault and another break.
The start of the second was error-strewn, Murray handing Kyrgios a break, and levelling only to fall behind again, as a series of shots were sent long across court.
But Murray took his time and again cancelled out his opponent's advantage to break for the second time in the set and make it 4-4 on the way to forcing a tie-break.
He battled in the breaker, too, yet one superb drive down the line from Kyrgios turned the tide in the Australian's favour as he won the final three points to claim it 7-4 and level the match.
Having been pegged back, the third was a battle for Murray as he fought for his holds and, serving to stay in the match at 6-5 down, there was a fist-pump when Kyrgios found the net.
It was only a temporary reprieve, as the 21st-ranked Kyrgios clinched victory with his third match point, but this was still a wholly positive outing for a fit-again Murray.
21. September 2018
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