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Murray, Gauff earn straight-sets wins in Washington

Andy Murray Scotland Andy Murray - The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Andy Murray thanked fans for taking off — or skipping — work to watch him play in the DC Open on a Wednesday afternoon.

His vintage performance made it worth it.

Cheered loudly and vociferously by the crowd at stadium court, the three-time Grand Slam champion and former top-ranked men’s player rallied to win the first-set tiebreak and beat American Brandon Nakashima 7-6(5), 6-4. It's his first win in Washington since 2018, a low point of Murray's career when fatigue caused him to withdraw and he didn't want to play tennis anymore.

The British star has no such issues now and showed clearly that at 36 he's still got it.

“It’s nice to be back and not having any of those issues and being pain-free and still competing at a high level,” Murray “It’s been a long journey these last four or five years, but I’m happy to still be going."

Murray is still going at this hard-court tune-up for the U.S. Open after coming back from down 5-2 in the tiebreak. He sliced shots perfectly over the net and returned some strong volleys that Nakashima couldn’t handle.

Fans yelled, “I love you Andy!” and chanted, “Let’s go, Andy, let’s go!” to boost him throughout the match, which he took over by breaking Nakashima to start the second set.

“I wanted to try to get off to a quick start put the pressure on him right at the beginning of the second,” Murray said. “You’ve got to work very hard for the win, and I did that today.”

Next up for Murray could be top-seeded Taylor Fritz, who was set to face fellow American Zachary Svajda later Wednesday, after Coco Gauff plays Hailey Baptiste.

While Murray was taking on Nakashima, third-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime lost 7-6(10), 7-6(3) to Japan's Yosuke Watanuki. Earlier, 11th-seeded Christopher Eubanks beat Sho Shimabukuro 6-3, 6-4.

On the women's side of the draw, Ukraine's Elina Svitolina improved to 8-0 against Russia's Daria Kasatkina, beating her 6-2, 6-2 in their first matchup since the French Open. Just as she has against players from Russia and ally Belarus since the invasion in February 2022, Svitolina did not shake hands after the match, despite Kasatkina speaking out against the war.

Svitolina will face either fourth-ranked Jessica Pegula or alternate Peyton Stearns in the quarterfinals. Pegula, the tournament's top seed, is tentatively scheduled to play Stearns on stadium court Thursday night.

Also Wednesday, 15th-ranked Belinda Bencic moved into the quarters by defeating American Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-4, and Madison Keys advanced into the round of 16 with a 7-5, 6-1 victory against China's Qinwen Zheng.


AP tennis: