LONDON (Reuters) - Former world number one Andy Murray's comeback from a year-long injury layoff was ended by Nick Kyrgios at Queen's Club on Tuesday but only after the Briton produced a typically dogged display of resistance.
The 31-year-old Murray looked on course for a dream return from right hip surgery as he took the first set against the erratic Australian but eventually succumbed 2-6 7-6(4) 7-5.
While the result, his first defeat in six matches against Kyrgios, was not what most of those on a sun-kissed centre court had wanted to see, Murray's general play and mobility were a heartening sight as Wimbledon approaches.
Despite looking fatigued near the end, the old fighting spirit was alive and well as he saved two match points at 4-5 in the decider. Kyrgios then saved a break point at 5-5 and an engrossing duel ended when Murray double-faulted.
Kyrgios had looked distracted in the opening set, surrendering three service games with wild double-faults and playing several outrageous party shots, but he buckled down and played some outstanding tennis.
"Obviously we are good mates and it was great to see him back and healthy," Kyrgios, who lost to Roger Federer in the semi-finals on grass in Stuttgart last week, said.
"I asked him at the end if he felt healthy and he said yeah, which is the main thing.
"It was nice to finally get a win over him but I can't really count it. He came out really good and I kind of expected that. Personally I feel good. I was out for two-and-a-half months so I'm feeling good."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge)