Andy Murray was beaten 6-4, 6-4 by world number 56 Richard Gasquet in the first round of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.
Murray was playing his first singles match since the Australian Open in January. At the time, he feared that hip resurfacing surgery may end his career. But successful surgery has left him pain free, allowing him to resume his singles career.
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It was an understandably difficult match for the former world number one. But there were positives too, and Murray progressed from tentative play in the first set to a more proactive performance in the latter stages of the match.
A nervy opening game saw Murray lose serve and he closely avoided going down a double break. But he recovered and began to get some rhythm going, breaking the Gasquet serve to draw level at 2-2.
The Frenchman fought back though, employing the drop shot to good effect to break and then take the first set 6-4.
As in the first set, Murray dropped serve to start the second set. But he began to play closer to the baseline with less spin on the ball, showing more confidence in his tennis.
With his game improving, Murray was able to keep the scoreline close and extend Gasquet's service games. But the Frenchman had the upper hand, using the drop shot well to expose Murray's rusty movement, and held on to seal victory.
Murray has confirmed that he won't play singles at the US Open, but he will play doubles and mixed doubles. He will probably play singles at Winston-Salem next week, and is then due to play at next month's Zhuhai Championships and China Open.