Andy Murray was beaten by Richard Gasquet in his first singles match since hip resurfacing surgery in the first round of the Cincinnati Masters.
The British former world number one lost 6-4 6-4 to France’s Gasquet.
Murray 32, broke down in tears at the Australian Open in January, fearing surgery on his long-standing hip injury may end his chances of playing singles.
Instead surgery has left him pain-free, allowing the three-time Grand Slam champion to resume his career.
- Relive Murray’s singles comeback match
The Scot 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.
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 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 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 44 minutes.
More to follow.