• Andy Murray entered Madrid Open on wid card
  • Murray has not competed in Rolland Garros since 2020
  • Murray has returned to Top 100 in ATP rankings

Dominic Thiem heaped praises on Andy Murray, calling the former World No. 1 a "role model" for making a comeback after a long injury lay-off.

Murray defeated Thiem 6-3, 6-4 at Madrid Open and improved his Head to Head to 3-2 against the Austrian tennis star. It was their first meeting in three years and the straight sets victory was Murray’s first clay-court win since 2017.

The two-time Wimbledon champion, Murray, underwent hip surgery in 2019. He has now broken into the Top 100 in the ATP rankings, reached a tour-level final in Sydney and earned standout victories over talented players such as Carlos Alcaraz, Hubert Hurkacz and Jannik Sinner since returning.

Madrid Open was Thiem’s just third tour-level event since last June following a wrist injury. After Murray sealed the match against Thiem in less than two hours Monday, the duo shared a warm embrace at the net, with the veteran player saying words of encouragement to his younger opponent.

"Keep going. It takes a lot of time but you'll be fine. I hope you feel better soon mate. Great to see you back," Murray told Thiem at the net, according to BBC Sport.

Acknowledging Murray’s gesture, Thiem told ATP, "It was very nice, his words at the net, and it is worth even more from someone like him who really went through that recovery process. He is one of the few who knows how tough it is to come back after a major injury and obviously he is a role model with how he came back with his hip injury."

Andy Murray got the better of Dominic Thiem in Madrid
Andy Murray got the better of Dominic Thiem in Madrid AFP / GABRIEL BOUYS

Murray, who has not competed in the Rolland Garros since 2020, had initially planned to skip the clay-court season but reversed his decision last month when accepting a wildcard for Madrid Open.

The Glasgow-born Murray will now face Denis Shapovalov in the second round, with the Canadian currently working alongside Murray’s former coach Jamie Delgado.