LONDON – Britain's Andy Murray triumphed in a hard-fought return to Masters-level tennis on Monday as he rallied from a set down to prevail 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 against Argentina's Juan Ignacio Londero in the first round of the Shanghai Masters.
Murray, who won the Shanghai title on his last appearance in 2016, fell behind after two breaks in the first set but battled back to win in two hours and 17 minutes.
"Since I came back to play, these are by far the fastest conditions I've played in," said Murray.
"So I struggled early on with my movement. But it was nice to be back and playing here again, get the win and hopefully start the next match quicker."
Meanwhile, Croatia's Marin Cilic stumbled to a shock first round defeat as he was beaten 6-4, 6-4 by Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
Ramos-Vinolas, who is ranked 46th in the world, broke Cilic's serve once in each set to complete the victory in one hour and 23 minutes.
After dismissing one former grand slam champion, the 31-year-old will go on to face 20-time major winner Roger Federer in round two.
Canada's Denis Shapovalov will take on top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic next after he dismissed American Frances Tiafoe in a 6-4, 6-2 win.
Murray will have to play much more confidently in his next test against Italian world number 12 Fabio Fognini, who conquered American Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-2 earlier.
It was Murray's first Masters-level match since a loss to Lucas Pouille in 2018 at the Cincinnati event before he took a break to recover from a hip injury in January.
The three-time grand slam champion saved two break points with a pair of aces in a tough opening service game and missed three break points with a 2-1 lead in a nervous start.
Argentine qualifier Londero, ranked 56th in the world, eventually broke serve first with a timely drop shot to move ahead 3-2 and extended the gap with a comfortable service hold.
Murray faltered further with a double-fault to give Londero a second break, which allowed his 26-year-old opponent to wrap up the first set with an ace.
Despite being behind after a poor start, the three-time grand slam champion Murray was undeterred and surged 3-0 ahead in the second set en route to levelling the match.
"I had to start going for my shots a bit more," Murray said.
"Be a bit more aggressive on the return and when I did that, I got a lot more success and created a lot of chances."
Londero conceded a break with a netted return to offer Murray a match-winning escape at 3-1 in the third set.
However, the 32-year-old Scot couldn't consolidate that advantage immediately as an error-strewn game saw Londero break back, but Murray grasped a second chance by breaking again for 4-2.
A sensational forehand scoop flew across the court and brushed the line to see Murray a game away from the second round.
At 5-3, Murray erased two break points and served out a marathon effort for his first Masters win since Madrid in 2017.
There was more success for Britain as Cameron Norrie progressed with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Frenchman Gilles Simon.
However, Kyle Edmund was beaten 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) by France's Jeremy Chardy, who will play Germany's Alexander Zverev next.
Two more Frenchman advanced to the second round after Benoit Paire dismissed Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-2, 7-5, and Gael Monfils completed another Italian job in a 7-5, 6-7 (1-7) 6-3 triumph over Lorenzo Sonego.