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.

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.

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