"I'm not going to play the U.S. Open singles," Andy Murray had said after his lost in straight sets to Richard Gasquet at the Cincinnati Masters. He knew how his body reacted after battling the Frenchman and this led to Murray being dodgy on accepting a U.S.
Open wildcard. He knew that his recovery from hip surgery was doing well but admitted, "I didn't want to take a wildcard...I just didn't know how I was going to feel after a match. I felt like I wanted to be fair to me..."
he emphasized. But things in tennis can turn around in an instant and that was his concern last month on not playing singles. Days ago Murray was overjoyed on his singles win, his first since Cincinnati. The Zhuhai Championships, his first round win was over Tennys Sandgren.
He professed it to be "one of the toughest matches that I have had." The Brit made this match 'the charm' as it was his third time around in singles. The first victory match in August since surgery was at the Rafa Nadal Open in Mallorca where he cleanly won over the inexperienced teen Imran Sibille, 6-0, 6-1.
"It was good. It's nice to get back on the court playing matches again," Murray said relieved. The second match was with Gasquet, losing 6-4, 6-4 in Cincinnati. At the Zhuhai, the Brit battled against Tennys Sandgren who isn't hardly an inexperienced player.
He's ranked no. 69 and has recently pulled an upset by winning over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the first round of this year's U.S. Open. But he also won over Murray a month ago at the Winston-Salem Open in straight sets of 7-6, 7-5.
Murray and Sandgren had a battle where both had 13 aces but Murray had nearly won all his first serves leaving Sandgren a bit flustered and digging in to find a vulnerable part of Murray's game. Sandgren had Murray running cross court to cross court, but it was the Brit who played a more brilliant game, finding the open court and ripping out winners to claim victory at 6-3, 6-7, 6-1.
Concern of his physical status during and after high performing matches is what Murray will be focusing on just as much as the result of his gritty strategic games. He was able to keep up and dig out a win, clearing the positives on his side.
Murray admits "It was a tough, tough match with some very hard games in the first set...I did well to come back in the third because it was very humid..." The more Murray racks up pain-free wins in singles, the more confident he is on not getting off that winning track and enter other singles in more tournaments.
He is still playing it wise on both sides of the game and would also like to play in doubles. It is his 'go to' game when his concern may flip in weighing reasons to skip singles. It is his decision on when to play doubles which is less stressful, more fun and not as much anguish on the body.
But despite it all singles may be the most satisfying part of tennis that he has missed and will continue to do until signs tell him otherwise.