Western and Southern Open: Andy Murray beaten by Richard Gasquet on singles comeback in Cincinnati

Andy Murray was beaten by Richard Gasquet at the Western and Southern Open
Andy Murray was beaten by Richard Gasquet at the Western and Southern Open

Andy Murray's return to singles action after a seven-month absence ultimately ended in defeat as the former world number one shook off a little ring rust in Cincinnati.

The 32-year-old Briton's first-round showdown against Frenchman Richard Gasquet at the Western and Southern Open resulted in a 6-4 6-4 reverse, but the outcome was only part of the story, with Murray attempting to revive his career after hip surgery.

Now pain-free and having returned to competitive action in doubles earlier this year, the Scot started slowly as he struggled to find a first serve and had to contend with Gasquet's determination to test his mobility at every opportunity.

In the event, Murray - who has signalled his intention to play in the singles at next month's Zhuhai Championships and China Open - lost the match but showed flashes of his best form as he warmed to his task.

The twice Wimbledon and Olympic champion, who feared in January that his career could be over, surrendered his service in the opening game and came within a point of a 3-0 deficit before rallying to lead 3-2.

However, Gasquet tested him to the full, including with a series of drop shots, before taking the first set 6-4.

The second set started in much the same fashion - the Frenchman establishing a 2-0 lead - but Murray repeatedly threatened to break while holding his own service with increasing confidence, before eventually succumbing 6-4 once again.

Murray's injury troubles and comeback

The defeat came after hip surgery in January with Murray suggesting his career was over at the start of the year.

Here, PA lays out the timeline of Murray's injury troubles and comeback.

June 9, 2017 - Murray puts shaky form going into the French Open behind him to reach the semi-finals before losing to Stan Wawrinka but begins to feel the flare-up of a long-standing hip issue that had previously been under control.

June 27 - Murray is forced to publicly acknowledge the problem when he pulls out of a scheduled exhibition match at the Hurlingham Club, a move cited as precautionary.

July 2 - After pulling out of a second Hurlingham match, Murray calms fears he may be forced to miss Wimbledon by confirming on the eve of the tournament that he will play.

July 12 - Walking with a noticeable limp, Murray battles his way into the quarter-finals but his title defence ends with a five-set loss to Sam Querrey. Afterwards, Murray insists he does not expect to be away from the tour for too long.

August 26 - After pulling out of two Masters events and losing his world number one ranking to Rafael Nadal, Murray travels to New York intending to return at the US Open. But two days before the tournament he announces at an emotional press conference that he is pulling out.

September 6 - Murray heads home for further consultations with a number of hip specialists then announces he is likely to miss the rest of the year but is hoping to avoid surgery.

January 2, 2018 - Murray schedules the Brisbane International for his second attempt at a comeback only to pull out on the eve of his first match.

January 8 - Murray announces he has undergone hip surgery in Melbourne. In an upbeat assessment, he says surgeon John O'Donnell is very happy and that he is targeting a return for the grass-court season.

January 14 - Loses in five sets to Roberto Bautista Agut in the Australian Open first round. Hints he may have a second hip operation but said he would be content if the defeat turned out to be his final professional match.

May 8 - After Murray does not enter a Challenger tournament in Glasgow that had been earmarked for his return, it emerges he has suffered a setback in his recovery.

June 16 - After two weeks back on court, Murray announces just before the draw that he will make his comeback at the Fever-Tree Championships at Queen's Club.

June 19 - A lengthy 342 days since his last competitive outing, Murray finally makes it back on court in the Fever-Tree Championships against Nick Kyrgios. He loses his first-round match 2-6 7-6 (7/4) 7-5.

July 1 - Murray wins his first match back against Stan Wawrinka at Eastbourne but then pulls out on the eve of Wimbledon, saying it is too soon to play best-of-five set matches.

August 30 - Murray returns to the tour in Washington and makes his grand slam comeback at the US Open, beating James Duckworth in round one before losing a close contest to Fernando Verdasco.

September - Murray plays one more event in China before bringing his season to an early close with the aim of being fully fit for 2019.

January 2, 2019 - Murray makes a third trip to Philadelphia to work with reconditioning expert Bill Knowles, who also travels to the Scot's pre-season camp in Miami. But a loss to Daniil Medvedev at his first tournament of the new season in Brisbane shows the hip remains a hindrance.

January 10 - Speaking ahead of the Australian Open, Murray says he has been in pain for "about 20 months" and that he will retire after Wimbledon.

January 28 - The Briton had hip resurfacing surgery which he said he hopes will "be the end of my pain".

May 21 - Murray suggests he will return at Wimbledon but would focus on the doubles.

July 6 - Murray and Pierre-Hugues Herbert lose their second round Wimbledon doubles match against Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-2 6-3.

July 10 - Murray's hopes of winning the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon with Serena Williams end with a 6-3 4-6 6-2 defeat against top seeds Bruno Soares and Nicole Melichar,

August 12 - Loses his singles comeback 6-4 6-4 to Richard Gasquet in the Western & Southern Open first round.

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