An emotional Andy Murray admitted he has been telling himself that every match could be his last after making a winning return to Queen’s Club.
The former world number one, back on the comeback trail following yet another injury setback, faced Benoit Paire at the cinch Championships in his first singles match on grass since 2018.
After completing a routine 6-3 6-2 victory – his first singles win on home soil in 1,084 days – Murray became tearful in his courtside interview.
He began: “The body is old. But I did quite well today in terms of my movement and stuff.
“It was my first match on grass in three years. I’ve only played three or four practice sets in the build-up so didn’t know how I was going to play or feel, so for a first match it was good.”
“I love playing tennis,” he added, before starting to well up.
“Sorry,” he continued. “Obviously competing is why you put in the hard work and in the last few years I haven’t been able to do that as much as I’d like so it’s great to be out here and competing again.”
Later a more composed Murray said: “I just wanted to go out there and enjoy it and just be myself. I did that. I enjoyed it. I get another opportunity tomorrow.
“I’m always sort of telling myself – and maybe it’s not the best mindset – but each match could be my last one, you know, that I play now.
“I want to make the most of every match that I play and each tournament that I get the chance to compete in.”
Murray could maybe not have hand-picked a more accommodating opponent in Frenchman Paire, who had won only two of his previous 17 matches this year, for his latest tentative return.
The fragile groin which kept the Scot out of the French Open passed its initial test, not least on set point when he stretched for a forehand and arrowed it down the line to take the opener.
A pinpoint backhand return of serve chalked up a double break in the second and when Paire floated a return long, the two-time Wimbledon champion was able to celebrate a long-awaited win.
Bigger tests await with Murray facing top seed Matteo Berrettini, the world number nine, in the next round.
Earlier British number one Dan Evans ended his losing streak at Queen’s with a 6-4 6-4 win over Australian youngster Alexei Popyrin.
Evans, at a career-high ranking of 25 in the world and seeded sixth, had not won a match at the Wimbledon tune-up in west London since 2014.
The 31-year-old had relaxed on Monday by watching Scotland’s Euro 2020 defeat by the Czech Republic with Murray, as well as the other players.
“It’s actually saving us in the bubble a bit, the Euros, and I think you sort of forget you’re in the bubble in the evening and the day,” he said.
“It’s been good and everybody has been getting involved, you know, other nationalities. It’s been pretty unique and pretty cool.”
Evans and Murray will be hoping to still be in the tournament, and the bubble, when England and Scotland clash on Friday. The British duo could even meet in the quarter-finals on the same day.
Their wins, added to those of Cameron Norrie and Jack Draper 24 hours earlier, meant it was the first time four British players had won their opening match at Queen’s since 2005 – the year Murray made his debut and won his first ATP match. That year Tim Henman, Greg Rusedski and Jamie Delgado also won their matches.