Andy Murray moved well in his first singles match since January, but not well enough to move on.
Utilizing a bottomless arsenal of drop shots, Richard Gasquet snapped a five-match losing streak against Murray with a 6-4, 6-4 win in the first round of the Western & Southern Open on Monday.
The singles match was Murray’s first since a painful exit from the Australian Open that had him thinking his career might be over. The three-time Grand Slam champion underwent a second hip surgery on Jan. 28, receiving metal implants that helped eliminate the pain that had hobbled him for a long time. Murray played doubles in several tournaments, including Wimbledon with Serena Williams and at Washington with brother Jamie, before deciding to try singles at Cincinnati, where he is a two-time champion.
The 32-year-old’s rust was evident as he double-faulted on his first serve, but he recovered to last 1 hour, 36 minutes with no apparent health issues.
Top-seeded Novak Djokovic and third-seeded Roger Federer remain in the men’s draw. It’s the first tournament for both players since their five-set final at Wimbledon, won by Djokovic in a match considered one of the greatest in history.
The other member of the Big Three, Rafael Nadal, withdrew from the Masters event, citing fatigue after he won the Rogers Cup in Montreal on Sunday
.The women’s Rogers Cup champion, Canadian Bianca Andreescu, also withdrew from Cincinnati because of a change in her schedule, tournament officials said. Andreescu won in Toronto after Serena Williams retired with back problems.
Gasquet will play fourth-seeded Dominic Thiem in the second round.
Marin Cilic became the first seeded player to lose when 39th-ranked Radu Albot beat him 6-4, 7-6 (6) in Monday’s opening round.
Unseeded Venus Williams won the last four games against qualifier Lauren Davis for a 7-5, 6-2 victory, earning a second-round match with fifth-seeded and defending champion Kiki Bertens.
In the first match on Stadium Court, 20th-ranked Elise Mertens dispatched local favorite Caty McNally 7-5, 6-0 to set up a second-round match with Elina Svitolina, the No. 7 seed and a semifinalist at Wimbledon.
Among other men’s matches, wild card Sam Querrey earned a second-round berth opposite Djokovic with a 7-6 (2), 7-6 (1) win over Pierre-Hugues Herbert.