Andy Murray is considering dropping down a level to further his singles comeback after suffering a first-round defeat at the Winston-Salem Open.
The former world number one went down 7-6 (8) 7-5 to American Tennys Sandgren in a promising display in just his second singles match back since career-saving hip surgery in January.
Murray has already confirmed he will not play in the US Open, which starts in New York next week, and will now ponder the possibility of playing some games at the Challenger level – one below the ATP Tour – to get as many matches as he can.
Among several other tournaments it means he could play at the Murray Trophy – a new addition to the calendar, named after the Scot and his brother Jamie.
It runs in Glasgow between September 16 and 22, a week before Murray is due in Asia to resume his ATP Tour schedule.
“I’m quite aware of sort of where I’m at just now and what my level is,” he told the ATP Tour website.
“It’s competitive at this level but it needs to be better. Maybe I need play a level down to get some matches and build my game up a little bit before I start playing on the Tour again.”
Despite suffering another defeat, Murray was much improved from his comeback loss to Richard Gasquet in Cincinnati so took the positives, which included feeling no pain in his hip after a gruelling match.
“Some things were a bit better today I think,” he added. “I was hitting the ball a bit cleaner than I did maybe in Cincinnati…
“I feel like I moved fairly well to some drop shots, which maybe last week I wasn’t running to.
“So there’s some good things in there but also some stuff I would like to do better.
“Physically, (I feel) OK considering, no pain, no discomfort. Just a little bit more tired than usual.”
Hundreds turned out to see him in North Carolina, with many sticking around after play was delayed for several hours due to rain.
There were some flashes of form from the Briton, who accepted a wildcard to the ATP 250 event, but world number 73 Sandgren proved too strong.
Murray struggled after losing the first set, being broken in the opening game of the second and falling 3-0 behind.
But he broke back twice to level at 5-5, before netting a forehand and handing the American the victory.
Provided by Press Association Sport
Andy Murray‘s decision not to play in the US Open doubles gives a “great message” about his progress towards a singles return, according to former British number one Greg Rusedski.
The 32-year-old Murray, who underwent hip surgery seven months ago in a bid to save his career, returned to singles action last week, when he lost 6-4, 6-4 to Richard Gasquet at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.
He had initially returned in doubles competition to ease back into the swing of things but confirmed on Friday that he would not continue to do so at the US Open.
Murray will instead play an ATP Tour event – the Winston-Salem Open – where he will face Tennys Sandgren in the first round on Monday night and Rusedski believes it could prove a wise decision from the two-time Wimbledon winner.
“It gives a great message to be quite honest,” Rusedski told PA.
“I thought he got better in his match with Gasquet and for not having played a match in singles since the Australian Open.
“I thought he got better in the second set, starting moving better and he is getting his focus back onto what he loves doing – playing singles.
“I think it was the right decision, I don’t think that physically he was ready to do three out of five set matches back-to-back.
“He is playing in Winston-Salem and has a good opportunity to win his first match, I don’t think he is ready for the US Open yet so I think it is a smart play to drop down a level and play some challengers during the US Open with the goal to get back to singles.”
Rusedski feels Murray could now be looking to slowly build up back to his best in attempt to make a Grand Slam return next year.
“I think he is smart enough and he knows the goal is to be ready for 2020,” he added.
“I was surprised when he started in Cincinnati, I thought he we was going to start in the singles in the Asian swing and it is the right thing to do.
“If you are not physically ready, he knows where he is with his recovery and exactly what he is doing so we will probably know more by 2020, if he enters the Australian Open, how far he has come.
“If he can get his movement back, that is the big question mark. He is still not up to the speed he once was but that is normal having only recently played his first singles game back.”
Nick Kyrgios overcame a bothersome back and used two of his 18 aces to close things out with a two-tiebreaker victory over No3 seed Daniil Medvedev to win the Citi Open final.
Kyrgios won his second title of the year and moved his ranking back into the top 30 with a 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4) win.
“Yeah, it’s amazing. Honestly, you know where I was six months ago. Some of the things I was doing. I was just putting myself in a really tough situation and to respond like this, having incredible support, it’s amazing,” the Australian said of his victory.
“I’ve had people behind me, backing me, and they never lost faith in me even though I lost it in myself. This week means a lot.
“Obviously, it’s great to get the win but, you know, I’ve proved to myself and to a lot of people that are backing me that I still have it and can still produce at the highest level.”