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Aug 13, 2019, 6:27:00 AM

Murray out in first round in Cincinnati

Andy Murray may have been outplayed in some aspects during his straight-sets loss to Richard Gasquet, but it is unlikely that he will be too downbeat. Just a few months after his tearful exit from the Australian Open, the former world number one is looking to get back near the top of his game, and entered into a singles tournament for the first time since undergoing hip surgery.

He hit the comeback trail earlier than expected in June, opting to enter into doubles competitions as a way to get some match practice without putting too much pressure on his body. The plan seemed to work, as he quickly won a title at the Queen’s Club Championships playing alongside Feliciano López, and his conditioning has only carried on improving.

Entering into both the men’s and mixed doubles at Wimbledon seems to have given him an appetite to step back onto the court as soon as possible.

His first singles match since January may not have been the vaunted one that some of his fans were desperately hoping for, and it might be a little too soon to expect him to be firing on all cylinders. He is still ranked outside the top 300 in the world, so he has a lot to do to climb back up the rankings.

After his 6-4, 6-4 loss to Gasquet, he admitted that he turned down a wildcard singles entry to the US Open, saying that he wanted to see how his body fared after his first competitive singles stretch in such a long time. However, he is in the doubles at Flushing Meadows, and will carry on playing first-to-two-set matches until he is confident that he can handle any extra exertion.

Murray’s first serve let him down early on in the first set, until he fired back from a break down to reach 2-2. However, Gasquet pushed for another break, and succeeded. Drop shots tended to be most successful for the Frenchman, who broke a losing streak of five matches against the three-time Grand Slam winner.

Murray said that his “legs were a little bit heavy at the end” compared to how they might have been if he was coming off a mid-season level of fitness. However, having feared for his exit from the sport back in January, it seems entirely possible that Murray could be playing at a high level in 2020.

Words: Josh Dixon

Images: PA