Competing at only 15 singles matches after Wimbledon 2017, a former world no. 1 and the three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has decided to make another try in Cincinnati, losing to Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 36 minutes.
Making a return to tennis in June, Andy embraced doubles duties and received positive feedback that encouraged him to enter the singles draw in Ohio, facing Gasquet for the 12th time. Gasquet proved to be too strong for the rival who hasn’t played in singles since January, saving four out of five break chances and earning three breaks to cross the finish line first and beat Andy for the first time since 2012!
Serving at only 54%, Murray had to work hard in his games, missing that fire in his legs and strokes he had before a nasty hip injury that required two surgeries, hitting 20 winners and 28 unforced errors and losing the edge in the most extended rallies to push Richard through.
The Frenchman played smart, taming his shots nicely and breaking Andy’s rhythm with a mixture of drop shots and deep strokes to continue where he left in Canada and advance into the second round. Gasquet broke at 30 in the very first game of the encounter after a backhand error from Murray, hitting three winners in game two to cement the lead.
Andy saved a break point in the third game to avoid an even bigger deficit, pulling the break back in game four when Richard sent a forehand long. There were two more break chances up for grabs for Gasquet in the fifth game, wasting them before firing a forehand winner at 3-3 to open another lead.
A drop shot winner sealed the next game for Richard who wrapped up the opener with a hold at love at 5-4 with a volley winner. Murray suffered a break at love at the beginning of the second set and that proved to be the crucial moment of the set, with the Frenchman defending the serve nicely and crossing the finish line with a hold in game ten thanks to a backhand mistake from Andy to book the place in the second round.