(Reuters) - Andy Murray has sharpened his game on the practice courts with some of the best players in the world but the Scot says now is the time to really test himself with a return to singles action at the Cincinnati Masters.
Murray had hip resurfacing surgery in January in a bid to salvage his career and eased himself back into competitive action in doubles play.
The 32-year-old is now ready to go it alone and will face Frenchman Richard Gasquet on Monday in what will be his first singles match since losing in the Australian Open first round to Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut seven months ago.
“The performances against top singles players in practises have been good,” said the three times Grand Slam winner, whose world ranking has slipped to No. 325
"But at some stage you have to take the step to try and play. The quickest way to get up to speed is by being on the practice and match court with top players," the ATP Tour's website here quoted him as saying.
Now with a metal covering on part of his hip, Murray says he is pain-free but knows it will take time to regain his agility and movement around the court.
“I’m not expecting to move as well I used to, but I think I can move better than I am now,” he said at a news conference. “That will take some time since I only started playing singles a couple of weeks ago.
“When you’re playing at the highest level against the best players, they hit the ball big and that takes some time to get used to.”
Murray said he taken inspiration from doubles player Bob Bryan, who made a successful return from hip surgery.
“I probably would have had the operation regardless,” he said. “But I’m not sure I would have tried to play if I hadn’t seen what he had done and heard everything he told me about. He’s been brilliant.”
Murray returned to doubles play in June, winning the Queen’s Club title with partner Feliciano Lopez, who he also partnered to the last 16 in Montreal last week and will team up with again in Cincinnati.
Murray, who also played mixed doubles with Serena Williams at Wimbledon, would go against fourth seed Dominic Thiem in the second round if he gets by Gasquet.
“You realise getting back to singles is a hard thing to do because you’re at the mercy of the draws a lot of the time,” Murray said. “I’ll just deal with it as it comes, but hopefully it makes for some exciting early rounds.”
Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford