Andy Murray falls to Lucas Pouille in first round in Cincinnati
Lucas Pouille v Andy Murray 6-1, 1-6, 6-4

Andy Murray falls to Lucas Pouille in first round in Cincinnati

13/08/2018

Andy Murray lost to Lucas Pouille 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 in the first round of the Western & Southern Open on Monday, clearing another obstacle for Roger Federer in this US Open tune-up.

Top-seeded Rafael Nadal dropped out Sunday night to prepare for the US Open after winning his fifth title of the year in Toronto.

Murray had his best result since he missed 11 months following hip surgery when he reached the quarterfinals in Washington two weeks ago. But he had a hard time adjusting to the Cincinnati courts. "The start of the match was not good,'' he said. "It was a pretty bad first set. After that, it was a little better.''

In later matches, 10th-seeded Novak Djokovic regrouped after blowing a 3-0 second-set lead to get past Steve Johnson, 6-4, 7-6 (4). The reigning Wimbledon champion failed to convert eight match points before he finally put Johnson away.

Wild-card Stan Wawrinka, working his way back from two left knee surgeries, advanced with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 win over 12th-seeded Diego Schwartzman.

Federer, seeded second, has won in Cincinnati a record seven times but hasn't played there since he won in 2015. In 2016 he had a knee injury, and in 2017 he had back problems.

"Cincinnati has always been a good tournament for me," said Federer, the reigning Australian Open champion. "I was sad not to play here last year, and two years ago there wasn't a chance. I'm glad to be back."

Even with the top-ranked Nadal missing, Federer liked the strength of this field, especially with Murray and Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic also successfully recovering from injuries.

"That's why you have such a good, exciting draw," Federer said before Murray's match was over. "It's a pity Rafa isn't playing. He would have added massively to that part of the draw."

Grigor Dimitrov, the defending champion who is seeded fifth, was not entirely upset about Nadal's absence.

"When Rafa is missing, he's missed, not so much by the players as much as the fans," he said. "All joking aside, I love spending time with Rafa and practicing with him and playing with him. I would be the last person to say I wouldn't want to play with him."

On the men's side, Kei Nishikori beat Andrey Rublev 7-5, 6-3, and 13th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta topped Richard Gasquet 6-3, 2-6, 6-3. Other winners were Peter Gojowczyk, Denis Shapovalov and qualifier Bradley Klahn.

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