Andy Murray rules out US Open singles after losing to Richard Gasquet

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Andy Murray: Scot loses to Richard Gasquet in singles comeback

Former world number one Andy Murray says he will not play singles at the US Open later this month.

On Monday Murray played his first singles match since career-saving hip surgery in January - a 6-4 6-4 loss to France's Richard Gasquet in Cincinnati.

However, he had been asked to make a decision on accepting a wildcard for the US Open prior to facing Gasquet.

"I didn't feel I was able to make that decision before today's match," said Murray, 32.

The Briton says he intends to play doubles and mixed doubles at the Grand Slam in New York, which starts on 26 August.

The three-time Grand Slam winner broke down in tears at January's Australian Open, fearing his career might be over. He believed surgery on his long-standing hip injury may end his chances of playing singles but has instead left him pain free and able to resume his career.

Murray consistently said he would not want his first tournament back to be over five sets at the US Open and playing over three in Cincinnati first left the door ajar for a potential follow-up appearance at Flushing Meadows.

The 2012 US Open champion, now ranked 324th in the world, could have used his injury-projected ranking to enter the Grand Slam but instead decided to wait until nearer the time to assess his fitness.

He had been offered a wildcard by the United States Tennis Association, but Murray said: "We were hoping to hold a wildcard until nearer the time and see how it feels.

"But the US Open were announcing their wildcards today and I didn't feel I was able to make that decision before today's match.

"I didn't want to take the wildcard today because didn't know how I would feel after the match.

"I also wanted to maybe wait and see how I felt after maybe playing a couple of matches and how I recover the next day."

Murray said he might play singles at the Winston-Salem Open next week.

He has already confirmed he will play two tournaments in China - the inaugural Zhuhai Championships and the Beijing Open, which he won in 2016 - in late September.

Encouraging signs for Murray on singles return

Murray returned to competitive action in the Queen's doubles in June - going on to win the tournament alongside Spain's Feliciano Lopez - and has played in four more doubles events.

But his ultimate goal was always returning to singles action after having an operation with former Royal surgeon Sarah Muirhead-Allwood which he described as "life-changing".

The Scot feared having the operation - where the femur head is smoothed down and covered with a metal cap - would leave him having 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.

From the moment Murray emerged onto the centre court in Cincinnati, smiling broadly and holding his mobile phone - presumably filming footage which he will use on his social media accounts - it was clear how much it meant to him.

Andy Murray
Murray documents his return to singles action in Cincinnati

Despite all the Grand Slam finals and title-defining matches, including many against the game's greats in Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, nerves were still there as he made a slow start.

Starting with a double fault, he went on to lose his serve in the opening game and fought off another break point as former world number seven Gasquet threatened to move 3-0 ahead.

Instead the Briton levelled at 2-2 after breaking back in the next game, only to trail again when Gasquet tested Murray's ability to change direction quickly on the deuce side of the court - with it being his right hip operated on - with a fizzing forehand winner for a 4-3 lead.

Gasquet, 33, served out the set with little problem, then broke again in the first game of the second set.

Murray continued to struggle to land first serves, although he did manage to stretch out Gasquet's service games without managing to break back, as the Frenchman went on to seal victory in one hour and 36 minutes.

Gasquet, who missed the first four months of the season after groin surgery, will play Austrian world number four Dominic Thiem in the second round.

Analysis

BBC Tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

Hard though he tried, Murray was unable to recover from poor service games at the start of both sets.

But he moved through the gears nicely after a very edgy start, and was able to put a lot of pressure on Gasquet's serve.

With his movement improving, there was one game in the middle of the second set in particular which pointed to a brighter future.

Murray covered a lot of ground to produce a flurry of winners, but the battle-hardened Gasquet still hung on to his serve.

The crowd were very subdued. They were respectful of Gasquet's superiority, but perhaps had unrealistic aspirations for the returning Murray.

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