Two-time champion Andy Murray made the most of his wildcard entry to the Western and Southern Open with an opening-round 6-4 6-4 triumph against Richard Gasquet.
The rain-delayed encounter at the ATP 1000 event marked a return for Murray after his withdrawal from singles at the Tokyo Olympics with a thigh strain, although he did play in the doubles alongside Joe Salisbury.
The Scot sent down 14 aces, including 10 in just the first set, to Gasquet’s three as the pair battled in Cincinnati, where Murray finished with 38 winners for the match. The 34-year-old won the tournament in 2008 and 2011.
“I was able to step in and control a lot of the points,” Murray said in comments carried on the ATP website.
“When I play like that, I create opportunities and can put a lot of pressure on my opponent.”
He will next face the winner out of ninth seed Hubert Hurkacz and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.
In his first press conference since the Olympics, Murray on Sunday admitted he would not be making any long-term goals until after the US Open.
“I think I need to set short-term goals, it is what’s really important just now because it’s been very difficult to plan medium and longer-term targets because of various different issues that I’ve had this year,” he said.
Murray made it to Wimbledon after two hip surgeries in 2018 and 2019, when it was unclear whether the Briton would be able to play tennis again.
Wimbledon was Murray’s first Grand Slam of this year, after he contracted Covid before the Australian Open and missed Roland Garros, and he reached the third round before losing to Denis Shapovalov in straight sets.