(Reuters) – Andy Murray announced on Monday he would not play singles at the U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 number one 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.
A focused Nick Kyrgios later defeated Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 7-6 6-4 in their first-round duel under the lights.
The unpredictable Australian bowed for the crowd after an impressive backhand stab volley gave him a 4-2 lead in the second set but he was otherwise business-like in the win.
Kyrgios, who won the Citi Open last week, said he was ready to build on that success after he was eliminated in the first round of the Rogers Cup on Tuesday following an argument with the chair umpire.
“I’m super happy with that week but I’m trying to build on it,” Kyrgios said of winning the title in Washington.
“It was an amazing week, awesome memories. I’m trying to create more things like that.”
Next up for Kyrgios is a first career meeting with eighth seed Karen Khachanov in the second round on Wednesday.
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 number two Rafa Nadal, the second seed, withdrew overnight, citing fatigue after winning his fifth Rogers Cup title on Sunday.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Christian Radnedge/Nick Mulvenney)