Andy Murray’s return to singles action continued with a second defeat on Monday night as he was beaten 7-6 7-5 by Tennys Sandgren in Winston-Salem.
Having taken up a wild card for this week, weather held up Murray’s return in North Carolina but when he did get onto the court, there were positives for him despite defeat to the world no 73, not least Murray’s trademark tenacity as he chased down almost everything.
Last week, Murray was beaten by Richard Gasquet in Cincinnati as he played his first singles match since January.
Murray has been keen for court time and matches on his return, and while he will need to seek out more of the latter, defeat lasted more than two hours and featured an epic tie-break in an opener which took a duration of one hour and 15 minutes.
Sandgren claimed the first set 10-8 in the decider and with his serve firing and Murray’s faltering, it was Sandgren who claimed the second too, and a meeting with second seed Denis Shapovalov.
Murray’s first-serve percentage of 50% will be a concern but there was the usual mix of winners via deft touches at the net and some fizzing groundstrokes from Murray, who remains realistic on his targets.
I’m quite aware of sort of where I’m at just now and what my level is. It’s competitive at this level but it needs to be better, Murray told the ATP’s website.
Maybe I need to play a level down to get some matches and build my game up a little bit before I start playing on the Tour again.
The former British No 1 is feeling his way back to full fitness after career-saving hip surgery earlier this year.
Having played doubles since June, Murray has now switched his focus back to singles and shelved plans to play doubles at the US Open in order to get match practice on the singles court.
First-round defeat in Winston-Salem means Murray is now likely to enter a Challenger event or two over the next fortnight before stepping up his schedule in China later this year.
(c) Sky Sports 2019: Andy Murray loses to Tennys Sandgren in Winston-Salem first round