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Andy Murray beaten by Richard Gasquet on singles return in Cincinnati

Andy Murray’s return to singles action after a seven-month absence ended in defeat in Cincinnati.

The 32-year-old Briton’s first-round match against Frenchman Richard Gasquet at the Western and Southern Open resulted in a 6-4, 6-4 reverse.

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

Murray – who has signalled his intention to play in the singles at next month’s Zhuhai Championships and China Open – 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 with 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 again.

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