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Murray beaten by Gasquet on singles comeback

The Scot underwent hip surgery earlier this year.

Murray beaten by Gasquet on singles comeback

Andy Murray’s return to singles action after a seven-month absence ultimately ended in defeat as the former world number one shook off a little ring rust in Cincinnati.

The 32-year-old Briton’s first-round showdown against Frenchman Richard Gasquet at the Western and Southern Open resulted in a 6-4 6-4 reverse, but the outcome was only part of the story, with Murray attempting to revive his career after hip surgery.

“I think I did OK,” Murray is quoted as saying by the ATP Tour’s official website. “I think there were a lot of things I would like to have done better in the match, but you also have to be somewhat realistic in terms of what you can expect.

“(Richard) uses all of the angles on the court. He’s one of the best at doing that, so I was having to move quite a lot laterally, and I didn’t move forward particularly well.

“Like when he drop-shotted, there were a few times I didn’t even run to the ball, didn’t react to it, and that’s nothing to do with my hip. That’s just me not running for a ball, which I did do that better at the end of the match.”

Now pain-free and having returned to competitive action in doubles earlier this year, the Scot started slowly as he struggled to find a first serve and had to contend with Gasquet’s determination to test his mobility at every opportunity.

In the event, Murray – who has signalled his intention to play in the singles at next month’s Zhuhai Championships and China Open – lost the match but showed flashes of his best form as he warmed to his task.

The twice Wimbledon and Olympic champion, who feared in January that his career could be over, surrendered his service in the opening game and came within a point of a 3-0 deficit before rallying to lead 3-2.

However, Gasquet tested him to the full, including with a series of drop shots, before taking the first set 6-4.

The second set started in much the same fashion – the Frenchman establishing a 2-0 lead – but Murray repeatedly threatened to break while holding his own service with increasing confidence, before eventually succumbing 6-4 once again.

Meanwhile, Johanna Konta was dumped out of the women’s draw by Swedish qualifier Rebecca Peterson in a hard-fought encounter.

The British number one, who was seeded 14, was on the ropes after losing the first set 6-3, but from 2-2 in the second, reeled off three successive games and then closed it out 6-3 with Peterson wilting.

The Briton broke once again in the first game of the third set but then surrendered four successive games before fighting back to 4-4, only for Peterson to eventually emerge as a 6-3 3-6 7-5 winner.

In the doubles, Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski bounced back from losing a first-set tie-break to edge out Americans Nicholas Monroe and Tennys Sandgren in a tense conclusion.

Murray and Skupski took the second 6-2 and then held their nerve in the decider to claim a 6-7(3) 6-2 10-8 win and set up a last-16 clash with Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.

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