Andy Murray announced on Monday he would not play singles at the US Open after losing in his long-awaited return from hip surgery at the Cincinnati Masters.
The Scot lost 6-4, 6-4 to Richard Gasquet in his first singles match since January before saying he had turned down a wild card into the men’s draw at the year’s final Grand Slam.
“I am not going to play US Open singles,” the 32-year-old said.
“I didn’t feel I was able to make that decision before today’s match.”
He indicated, though, that he would play doubles and mixed doubles at Flushing Meadows in two weeks and left open the door for possibly for playing before then.
“I may play Winston-Salem potentially,” he said of the North Carolina event, which starts in six days.
“But I’ll probably look at just playing doubles and mixed doubles. That’s what I will do at the US Open.”
In his first match since the hip resurfacing surgery which he hopes will prolong his career, Murray started tentatively but improved as the went on, even if he was always up against it after Gasquet broke his serve to start both sets.
“I don’t really know what I was expecting, to be honest. I think I did okay,” he told a news conference.
“I think there was a lot of things I would like to have done better in the match, but, you know, you also have to be somewhat realistic, as well, in terms of what you can expect.”
Not having playing singles tennis for several months had an obvious impact, he said.
“I think physically, you know, my legs were a little bit heavy at the end of the match in comparison to maybe what they normally would be if you played a bunch,” he said.
“I was having to move quite a lot laterally, and I didn’t move forward particularly well. Like when he drop-shotted, there was 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.”
The former World No 1 arrived on centre court to huge cheers, recording a video of the moment as he offered a big smile.
But the first serve was far from what Murray and the crowd — particularly the fan waving the Scotland flag — wanted.
A two time winner of the tournament, Murray double-faulted and Frenchman Gasquet, who returned himself in May from groin problems, was quickly 2-0 up.
Murray then seemed to find himself. The Briton, moving better, won three consecutive games, including a break of serve, to go ahead 3-2.
But Gasquet, 33, won the next three games to move ahead 5-3 and into position to take the opener.
Murray played much better in the second set and had a break point to get back on serve at 2-2. But Gasquet never let go of his early break and eventually went up 4-2.
Earlier, Marin Cilic became the first seed to fall when he was eliminated by Radu Albot of Moldova 6-4, 7-6(6), while Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic upset Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime 6-3, 6-3.
American Sam Querrey and Japan’s Yodhihito Nishioka were also winners, Querrey outlasting France’s Pierre-Hughues Herbert 7-6(2), 7-6(1) and Nishioka defeated Australian Jordan Thompson 7-5, 5-7, 6-4.
World No 2 Rafael Nadal, the second seed, withdrew overnight, citing fatigue after winning his fifth Rogers Cup title on Sunday.
Sharapova win sets up Barty battle in Cincinnati
Maria Sharapova overpowered Alison Riske 6-3, 7-6(4), at the Cincinnati Masters on Monday to set up a tantalising second-round battle with world number two Ashleigh Barty, who defeated the Russian at this year’s Australian Open.
Sharapova struggled at times with her accuracy but unleashed some massive serves and played stout defence at key moments on her return to the tournament after a five year absence.
Fellow tournament wild card Riske looked poised to send the match to a third set when she was serving on 5-3 and 15-0 in the second set but Sharapova upped her game to force a tiebreaker.
Former world number one and five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova prevailed on her fourth match point to set up the meeting with top seeded Barty.
Barty defeated Sharapova in the fourth round of the Australian Open in January and both will be looking to sharpen their games ahead of the US Open later this month.
Another former world number one, Caroline Wozniacki, fell to rising Ukrainian teenager Dayana Yastremska 6-4, 6-4 under the lights to close out the day’s action.
The unseeded Dane had her opportunities but converted just four of her 15 break point chances against Yastremska, who was making her Cincinnati debut.
Johanna Konta suffered her second straight first-round exit at a tournament as she fell 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 to qualifier Rebecca Peterson in a marathon first-round match.
The 14th-seeded Konta’s biggest weakness was her second serve as the Swede won 62% of those points against the error-prone Briton.
Svetlana Kuznetsova upset 11th seeded Anastasija Sevastova 7-6(3), 6-7(4), 6-4 in their first-round battle to set up a second round clash with Yastremska.
Seven times Grand Slam champion Venus Williams moved through the first round when she defeated compatriot Lauren Davis in straight sets earlier in the day.
Wild card Williams won 7-5, 6-2 on centre court as she maintained her streak of never having lost a set to Davis, having beaten her four times.
Williams fended off seven of the eight break points she faced, and won 61% of points when returning the Davis second serve.
Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva and Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich earlier won three set matches.
Putintseva defeated Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia 6-2, 7-6(3), 6-3 and Sasnovich beat Astra Sharma of Australia 6-1, 4-6, 6-1.
Former champion Kuznetsova added to US Open field
Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2004 US Open champion, has been added to the main draw of this year’s tournament after the withdrawal of Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova.
World No 67 Cibulkova withdrew because of a left foot injury, tournament officials said on Monday.
Kuznetsova, number 153 in the world rankings, becomes the seventh former US Open singles champion in the field for the tournament, which starts on August 26 in New York.
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