Andy Murray claimed the biggest win of his comeback from injury in ousting No. 8 seed Matteo Berrettini in two hard-fought sets in the first round of the 2019 China Open on Tuesday.
The Scotsman prevailed 7-6 (2), 7-6 (7) in just over two hours after coming back from a break down in both sets to force a tiebreak.
Top seed Dominic Thiem was also victorious in his first-round clash against Richard Gasquet.
Elsewhere, Gael Monfils was beaten by John Isner in the men's draw, while women's top seed Ashleigh Barty breezed past Yulia Putintseva.
China Open, Selected Tuesday Results
Andy Murray bt. (8) Matteo Berrettini: 7-6 (2), 7-6 (7)
John Isner bt. (7) Gael Monfils: 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3
(1) Dominic Thiem bt. Richard Gasquet: 6-4, 6-1
(1) Ashleigh Barty bt. Yulia Putintseva: 6-4, 6-2
(15) Sofia Kenin bt. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: 6-3, 6-2
(7) Petra Kvitova bt. Kristina Mladenovic: 6-4, 6-4
For the full results and draw, visit the competition website.
In an emotional press conference before the Australian Open back in January, Murray all but called time on his illustrious career due to an ongoing hip injury.
Following successful surgery, though, the three-time Grand Slam champion started on the comeback trail in August, and Tuesday's victory marks a significant step on his return to the top of the game:
Berrettini, 23, is the world No. 13 and only last month was playing in the U.S. Open semi-finals against Rafael Nadal.
On Tuesday, the Italian had the initiative after an early break and was serving for the first set at 5-3, but Murray hauled himself back to parity, showing many of the battling qualities that have defined his career, before dominating the tiebreak to get his nose in front:
The 32-year-old was forced to fight back again in the second set after going 2-0 down, and he then saved a set point in a much tighter second tiebreak.
Murray eventually sealed victory when Berrettini missed a volley:
The two-time Wimbledon champion's celebration was muted, but given where he was barely 10 months ago, Tuesday could arguably be counted among the key wins of his career:
While he is some way from the superb form that saw him reach No. 1 in the world back in 2016, his game looked in fine shape in the first round in Beijing.
His first serve was at 69 per cent, and he took advantage of some waywardness from his opponent with big returns and groundstrokes, as well as some deft touches at the net.
Perhaps most importantly, he was also sharp around the court, and he will be relishing the opportunity of a second-round clash against fellow Brit Cameron Norrie.
If Murray prevails over Norrie, he could then meet Thiem in the quarter-finals.
The Austrian world No. 5 was clinical in his defeat of Gasquet.
He broke the Frenchman three times while not giving up a single break opportunity on his own serve, and he eventually ousted Gasquet in 82 minutes.
Thiem finished the match with a first-serve percentage of 72, and he won 32 of 39 points behind his first serve, giving Gasquet little chance of getting into the match.
He will now face China's Zhang Zhizhen to set up a potential last-eight clash with Murray.