After defeat to brother Jamie, Andy Murray will play Tennys Sandgren at the Winston-Salem Open as he steps up his return to the singles court.
Murray has been focused on doubles as he sought to build match fitness following surgery, but on Thursday confirmed he felt he was now in a position to focus on rebuilding his singles career and would not play doubles, men’s or mixed, at the US Open as had been expected.
The Scot teamed up with Feliciano Lopez at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati this week, but after a couple of impressive wins they came up short in a tight contest against Jamie Murray and his new partner Neal Skupski who advance to the last four.
Having played alongside his older brother in Washington last week, the Murrays were meeting on court for only the second time, and the first since 2015. It was Murray and Lopez who took the first set on a tie break, only to see their opponents level and force a champions tie-break where they prevailed.
“It was tough, not the most enjoyable match. The atmosphere kind of felt a bit flat on the court which I think is in some ways normal in those sorts of matches,” Andy told reporters after the match.
“I’m happy Jamie got through. You want to go out there and compete and play as well as you can, but you’re not getting the same enjoyment out of serving an ace or hitting a great return as you might be in other matches.
“Obviously we tried to do our best but it wasn’t enough today.”
Following career saving hip-surgery, Murray made a fairy-tale return to the court by winning the doubles title alongside Lopez at Queen’s and then teamed up with Serena Williams to reach the last 16 at Wimbledon, but now he faces a run of singles tournaments to get back up to speed.
Murray took the final wild card in Winston-Salem next week, and the draw has paired him with Sandgren, a former Australian Open quarter-finalist who is ranked 72nd in the world.
If Murray is victorious against Sandgren, who he has never previously played, he will face second seed and world No 34 Denis Shapovalov in the second round. Fellow Brit Dan Evans is seeded fifth and in the opposite half of the draw.