Andy Murray defeated on singles return at Cincinnati Masters
The Scot was playing his first competitive singles match after hip resurfacing surgery on January 28
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 13/08/19 5:14pm
Andy Murray was defeated by Richard Gasquet 6-4 6-4 on his return to singles action at the Cincinnati Masters.
The Scot, who was playing in his first competitive singles match since hip resurfacing surgery at the end of January, was broken in the first game of the encounter and struggled early on with his rhythm.
Murray then faced a break point to go 0-3 down in the first set but resolutely levelled it back at three games apiece.
Gasquet, who had surgery on a groin injury ten days before Murray, has been back since May and held his focus. He used the drop-shot to great effect to push back ahead in the first set and secured it in 44 minutes.
The returning Murray had won his last five meetings in a row against the Frenchman but again found himself broken at the start of the second set.
As the match wore on Murray grew in confidence and showed much greater fluidity in all aspects of his game. The Scot started to dictate more of the points and attacked the net with considerable purpose.
At 3-2 up, Gasquet was severely tested on his serve but he turned to another disguised drop-shot to help hold before sealing the victory.
Murray last played singles on January 14 at the Australian Open and many believed that his five-set defeat by Roberto Bautista Agut would be his last competitive tennis match.
After a successful operation, Murray made a remarkable title-winning return to the doubles court with Feliciano Lopez at Queen's.
Murray has only been practising competitive singles for two and a half weeks, playing practice sets against top opponents on the tour. With that in mind, the margin of error that he showed during the hour and a half of play was to be expected.
The 32-year-old arrived onto Centre Court in Cincinnati with his iPhone in hand and the fact that he recorded his walk on, highlighted just how much it meant to him to be there.
With the nerves jangling a slow start ensued while Gasquet stuck to task from the opening moments. He used deft touches from all over the court and was focused on testing Murray's movement to the max.
Murray built throughout but his opponent, who had secured notable victories over Kei Nishikori and Benoit Paire at the Rogers Cup last week, had the right answers at the right time and soaked up the pressure.
The result was only Gasquet's fourth win in 12 attempts against Murray and he'll face the fourth seed Dominic Thiem in the second round.
Murray has opted against playing singles at the US Open following this defeat. The former world No 1 will play men's and mixed doubles in the upcoming grand slam, which starts on August 26.
The Scot has yet to confirm his partner for either doubles event at Flushing Meadows, the scene of his first Grand Slam triumph back in 2012.
Back in singles, he has announced that he will play at the inaugural Zhuhai Championships and the China Open in September.