Andy Murray delighted with winning Grand Slam comeback as he beats James Duckworth in US Open

IT wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t straightforward. And it was anything but a classic.

But , most importantly, at the end of a sapping, sweaty three hours and 18 minutes, the scoreboard read 6-7 6-3 7-5 6-3 to Andy Murray as the start of his Grand Slam comeback began with a much needed win.

 Andy Murray was quietly satisfied with his Grand Slam return, albeit a patchy win over James Duckworth

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Andy Murray was quietly satisfied with his Grand Slam return, albeit a patchy win over James Duckworth

Big serving Aussie James Duckworth did his best to frustrate and annoy the three time slam champ, refusing to go away and continuing to ask questions with some risky, attacking tennis.

That was one reason for him racking up a whopping 64 unforced errors yet even though the final score was deserved for the Scot, no-one watching events unfold here would have been disagreeing with Murray’s pre-tournament claim of having no chance of repeating his triumph here in 2012.

It could take months before Murray is back to his very best.

Booking a second round date with Spain’s Fernando Verdasco on Wednesday ,however, was all that counts.

 Scot Andy Murray survived losing a first-set tie-break to triumph over Australian outsider James Duckworth

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Scot Andy Murray survived losing a first-set tie-break to triumph over Australian outsider James Duckworth
 James Duckworth gave Andy Murray some testing moments with his serving in the US Open first round

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James Duckworth gave Andy Murray some testing moments with his serving in the US Open first round

A win is a win and the 31 year-old said: ”At times it was tricky, especially early in the match.

"It was very lively. It was very hot and the ball was flying around.

James was serving big and playing a lot of drop shots and throwing me off my rhythm a lot, so I’m happy I managed to get through that and played some good stuff at times.

“I made a bit of a change on the return games. I started standing a little bit further back to give myself a bit more time and got myself into a few more rallies that way.

"Once I got into the rallies I was a bit more comfortable. I found my range with the ground strokes and improved from there.”

 Andy Murray says he was particularly happy to win on a court where he has sometimes struggled

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Andy Murray says he was particularly happy to win on a court where he has sometimes struggled

Murray stepped onto the new look, $200 million revamped Louis Armstrong Stadium knowing the next phase of his career starts right now.

The hip operation the 31 year-old underwent in January could well have derailed him for good. Yet those old fighting instincts kicked in just at the right time.

He added: “I’ve lost a lot of matches out here over the years. I’ve struggled on this court, but it’s like a new beginning. It’s beautiful. It’s a little bit more sheltered.

"The sun went behind this bit of the roof, which was probably nice for everyone watching as well as the players. It was beautiful and a great atmosphere for the first day of the tournament. I’m very happy to be back.”

The seven three set matches – four wins and three defeats – played so far this year have produced mixed performances and those close to the Scot reckon he needs a few more months before he’s firing on all cylinders once again.

 Brit Andy Murray will now play Spanish 31st seed Fernando Verdasco in the US Open second round

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Brit Andy Murray will now play Spanish 31st seed Fernando Verdasco in the US Open second round

But the two time Wimbledon champ is a natural born competitor who needs the adrenaline rush of being back in the big time.

Aussie Duckworth , who almost quit last year after going under the knife five times with a series of foot and shoulder problems, was just happy to be competing.

A strong hold in the first game allowed the Scot to settle quickly although Duckworth , helped by a serve which at one point thundered down at 135 mph, wasn’t here just to make up the numbers.

There was the odd grimace from Murray who clearly isn’t 100% fit but this first slam match since Wimbledon 2017 was a decent test.

He wasn’t rampaging around the court like days gone by yet that’s understandable.

 Andy Murray looked quite sharp as he battled to a four-set win over Australian big-server James Duckworth at Flushing Meadows

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Andy Murray looked quite sharp as he battled to a four-set win over Australian big-server James Duckworth at Flushing Meadows

His returns lacked their old menace. There wasn’t that old snap in his shots.The seemingly impossible points weren’t won.

Midway through the first set, the Aussie had twice the amount of winners but had 11 unforced errors to Murray’s three.

A better player than the world no 448 would have made the Brit pay. Murray finally earned a breakpoint at 6-5 but the opportunity went begging before Duckworth eased home in the tie-break to bag the first set.

It was a blow for Murray but perhaps the wake-up call the 31 year-old needed.

The second set was more encouraging – his serve and unforced error count allowed him to keep the pressure on Duckworth who was sweating buckets on a humid New York afternoon.

Andy Murray attempts Dele Alli celebration challenge as he asks Tottenham ace 'did I get it'

Once the break was sealed for 2-1, Murray kept his nerve and got himself back into the mix.

Duckworth disappeared for a comfort break before the start of the third although there was nothing to disguise his anger at an inability to take his chances.

Both players were grinding through the gears – a sure sign they’re on the start of the road to recovery.

Duckworth was taking on a lot of risky shots in an attempt to put Murray under pressure.

The Brit, however, refused to buckle and when a set point presented itself, Murray produced some of his best stuff to frustrate the Aussie who eventually smacked the ball wide.

Murray was soon doing some smashing of his own – a wayward service game saw his poor racket thrown to the ground in pure anger.

But Duckworth’s woes wouldn’t go away either and a 12th double fault allowed the Brit to move 5-3 ahead.

And when he brilliantly raced the length of the court to bring up match point, the Surrey based Scot screamed in delighted.

Even the old fist pumps made an appearance too.

It finally felt like old times.

IT wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t straightforward. And it was anything but a classic.