Cheered loudly and vociferously by the crowd at stadium court, the three-time Grand Slam champion and former top-ranked men’s player rallied to win the first-set tiebreak and broke Nakashima early in the second on the way to a 7-6(5), 6-4 victory.
Murray showed at age 36 he’s still got it, slicing shots perfectly over the net and returning some strong volleys that Nakashima couldn’t handle.
The British star did struggle early to handle Nakashima’s serve, leading to a tiebreak that he trailed 4-2. Fans yelled, “I love you Andy!” and chanted, “Let’s go, Andy, let’s go!” and Murray came back to win it and take control of the match.
Next up for Murray in the hard-court tune-up for the U.S. Open could be top-seeded Taylor Fritz, who was set to face fellow American Zachary Svajda later Wednesday, after Coco Gauff plays Hailey Baptiste.
While Murray was taking on Nakashima, third-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime lost 7-6(10), 7-6(3) to Japan’s Yosuke Watanuki. Earlier, 11th-seeded Christopher Eubanks beat Sho Shimabukuro 6-3, 6-4.
On the women’s side of the draw, Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina improved to 8-0 against Russia’s Daria Kasatkina, beating her 6-2, 6-2 in their first matchup since the French Open. Just as she has against players from Russia and ally Belarus since the invasion in February 2022, Svitolina did not shake hands after the match, despite Kasatkina speaking out against the war.
Svitolina will face either fourth-ranked Jessica Pegula or alternate Peyton Stearns in the quarterfinals. Pegula, the tournament’s top seed, is tentatively scheduled to play Stearns on stadium court Thursday night.
Also Wednesday, 15th-ranked Belinda Bencic moved into the quarters by defeating American Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-4, and Madison Keys advanced into the round of 16 with a 7-5, 6-1 victory against China’s Qinwen Zheng.