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Andy Murray could drop down a level to further his singles comeback
Murray may be playing at a competitive level but he could now be forced into rethinking his strategy
Last Updated: 20/08/19 5:51pm
What's next for Andy Murray? After first round exits at the Cincinnati Masters and Winston-Salem Open, the Scot admits he could be forced to drop down a level in order to rebuild his confidence.
Murray was much improved from his comeback loss to Richard Gasquet as he went down 7-6 (10-8) 7-5 to American Tennys Sandgren in a promising display in just his second singles match back since career-saving hip surgery in January.
The 32-year-old has already confirmed he will not play singles or doubles in the US Open, which starts in New York next week.
Despite some flashes of form from the Briton, who accepted a wildcard to the ATP 250 event in North Carolina, there were also moments of frustration towards his box as he continues the long road back to try and find somewhere near the kind of form which saw him become a two-time Wimbledon champion.
Murray is expected to ponder the possibility of playing some games at the Challenger level - one below the ATP Tour - to get as many matches as he can.
Among several other tournaments in Italy, China, Mallorca and New Haven, it also means he could play at the Murray Trophy - a new addition to the calendar, named after the Scot and his brother Jamie.
It runs in Glasgow between September 16 and 22, a week before Murray is due in Asia to resume his ATP Tour schedule where he is due to play the Zhuhai Championships before Beijing.
"I'm quite aware of sort of where I'm at just now and what my level is," he told the ATP Tour website.
"It's competitive at this level but it needs to be better. Maybe I need play a level down to get some matches and build my game up a little bit before I start playing on the Tour again."
Hundreds turned out to see him at the Winston-Salem, with many sticking around after play was delayed for several hours due to rain and despite suffering another defeat, Murray took the positives, which included feeling no pain in his hip after a gruelling match.
"Some things were a bit better today I think," he added. "I was hitting the ball a bit cleaner than I did maybe in Cincinnati...
"I feel like I moved fairly well to some drop shots, which maybe last week I wasn't running to.
"So there's some good things in there but also some stuff I would like to do better.
"Physically, [I feel] OK considering, no pain, no discomfort. Just a little bit more tired than usual."
Greg Rusedski said Murray's decision not to play in the US Open doubles gives a "great message" about his progress towards a singles return in 2020.
And that appears to be the target for the former world No 1 whose "expectations are pretty low". For Murray, it's about feeling better on court and gaining confidence and that comes with wins, and if it means playing Challenger events, then so be it.
Expect to see Murray's team step up his participation over the next couple of months before the end of the tennis season. When he returns to action the Scot will hope to have made further progress as he builds towards the Australian Open where he will aim to be back to the peak of his physical powers.
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