World no. 503 Andy Murray has made another big step on his comeback trail, defeating the 8th seed Matteo Berrettini 7-6, 7-6 in two hours and one minute for a winning start in Beijing. 2016 champion delivered the first top-20 victory since Shenzhen last year and only his third of the season overall, finding the victorious path again after the second-round exit in Zhuhai to the eventual champion Alex de Minaur.
The Briton made the difference with the second serve, fending off five out of seven break chances and delivering two breaks from five opportunities to stay in touch with the better-ranked opponent in both sets. Berrettini had more winners and unforced errors (35-32) but Andy was there to battle, reducing the number of mistakes and enduring all the efforts (was a break down in both sets) to find himself over the top and in the second round of the ATP 500 event for the first time since Washington 2018.
The encounter kicked off with four holds at love and it was Matteo who drew first blood with a break in game five thanks to a loose forehand from Murray. The Italian fended off a break point in the eighth game with a service winner to remain in front, serving for the set at 5-4 when Andy broke back to level the score and prolong the action.
They went into a tie break and Murray had the upper hand there, moving 2-1 in front after a backhand error from Berrettini and clinching another mini-break that pushed him 5-2 up, closing the opener two points later after 51 minutes.
Matteo made a strong start in set number two, breaking Andy in the second game but staying in front only for a couple of minutes as the three-time Major champion broke back straight away to keep himself on the positive side of the scoreboard.
Facing an ultimate test at 2-3, Murray repelled four break chances and they both served well in the remaining games to set up another tie break that went down to the wire. A forehand winner sent Berrettini 6-5 ahead but it wasn't to be for him, wasting a set point after a volley winner from Andy who hit another one at 6-7 to erase the second set point and seal the deal two points later when Matteo netted a volley.