Andy Murray made his return to singles tennis on Monday, losing to Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-4 in the first round of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
The return to singles came less than seven months after Murray underwent hip surgery in an effort to eliminate chronic pain that had plagued him in recent years and made it impossible for him to play tennis at a high level or find enjoyment in the sport.
Rusty Murray Shows Signs of Old Game
Similar surgeries had allowed other players to return to doubles play, something Murray did this summer. Not only was he able to win his first men’s doubles tournament when he returned, he also delighted fans by teaming up with Serena Williams in the mixed doubles competition at Wimbledon.
But no tennis player had undergone a hip resurfacing and then continued to have a professional singles career. Murray showed that it could be done on Monday, as while he looked rusty and occasionally struggled with court movement, he was competitive against a quality opponent, as Gasquet is currently ranked 56th in the world.
In between the struggles, there were plenty of signs of Murray’s old game. And even if he never again competes for a major title, the 32-year-old Scotsman said that just getting back on the court and doing what he loves meant the world to him.
“I’m very aware that there are many people out there that have been in way worse situations than me, but tennis is something I have done my whole life, so it’s something that is kind of all I have known as an adult,” Murray said afterwards. “It’s all I have worked [for] to be a professional tennis player for my whole life. So when I wasn’t able to do that and didn’t know whether I was going to be able to come back and play, that was hard.”
Murray has said that he feels none of the pain that made it so difficult for him to compete over the past few years of his career. That has given him hope that he can improve and again be competitive with his rivals at the top of the world rankings – even if he isn’t quite there yet.
“I thought it maybe would have changed my perspective completely on things, but I’m sitting here disappointed, which I think is probably a good thing,” Murray said. “If I want to get back to playing at a high level, if I was sort of just happy to be back on the court and, you know, not really worried about the outcome, then I’d be a bit maybe concerned about that.”
US Open Off the Table
Despite the progress, however, Murray said that he will not be playing at the US Open, which begins on Aug. 26. The timing of the announcements for wild card entries – which would likely be Murray’s only route to being included in the tournament – weighed heavily into that decision.
“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, but they were announcing the wild cards today and didn’t want to wait,” Murray told reporters.
While Murray’s inclusion in the US Open would have generated plenty of interest, he would not have been considered a favorite to win the tournament, especially considering his recent return to the singles game. FanDuel Sportsbook lists Novak Djokovic (+115) as the favorite to win the men’s singles draw, ahead of Rafael Nadal (+430) and Roger Federer (+600).
Nadal isn’t in Cincinnati, but Djokovic and Federer are both participating in the US Open warm-up. SkyBet lists Djokovic as a 6/5 pick to win this week’s even, ahead of Federer (10/3).