Former world no.1 loses his first singles match since Australian Open
Despite Murray’s loss in the Cincinnati Open on Monday, the former no.1 made great strides in his return. While his game showed signs of rust, his on-court demeanor and trademark exasperated mannerisms were in vintage form.
Murray was broken immediately in both the first and second sets. But he showed his trademark grit on the court, battling hard throughout the one-hour, 37-minute encounter.
“I think I did okay. I think there was a lot of things I would like to have done better in the match, but you also have to be somewhat realistic, as well, in terms of what you can expect in terms of how you actually play and hit the ball,” Murray said. “Richard, he 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 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. That’s just me not running for a ball, which I did do that better at the end of the match. I reacted and got to a few and won points.”
Murray’s ultimate goal was to return to singles action after having the operation in January, which he described as “life-changing”.
The Scot feared having the operation as there was the risk he would have to call time on an illustrious career which has also seen him win 45 ATP singles titles and two Olympic gold medals.
No player had ever had the operation and then resumed their singles career. And, although the Scot felt no major pain, he announced that he will not be playing singles at the US Open.
“We were hoping to maybe hold a wild card until a little bit closer to the time to see how I feel and get some matches hopefully and a bit of practice, “ Murray said. “[It was] a decision I made with my team. I didn’t want to take a wild card today because I just didn’t know how I was going to feel after a match. I felt like I wanted to be fair for me to maybe try and get a couple of matches in before making a decision like that.”
Murray added that he may potentially play singles next week in Winston-Salem, but that he plans to play men’s doubles and mixed doubles in Flushing Meadows. It’s not necessarily that anything in particular went wrong against Gasquet — there wasn’t something in the match that forced his hand — but Murray had to make a decision about accepting a wild card.
“If I would have taken the wild card and then not played, then I would have been getting loads of questions about my hip and, ‘Why has he turned it down? Is something wrong? What’s the problem’?” Murray said. “It was more likely that I was not going to [play], because although I did fine in the match today, physically, my legs felt quite heavy at the end of the match, and that’s probably not going to change a whole lot in a couple of weeks.”