Washington - Andy Murray is back on hard courts for the first time in four months - and back at the Citi Open for the first time in nine years.
The two-time major champion is seeded No 1 at the US Open tune-up event which began on Monday, getting his game in gear on the surface on which he won his first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows in 2012.
Like other seeded players, Murray received a first-round bye, and his initial match in Washington, where he hasn't played since he was the 2006 runner-up, comes on Wednesday against 53rd-ranked Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia. That will be Murray's first competition on a hard court since losing in the final at Miami to top-ranked Novak Djokovic in early April.
"It does take a while, especially coming from the grass. This morning was the first time when I hit and started to feel more comfortable on the courts, feel like I'm starting to get used to them again. Obviously the conditions here, when compared with Wimbledon, is completely different. Extremely humid. Very high-bouncing courts," said the third-ranked Murray, who lost to No 2 Roger Federer in the semi-finals at the All England Club last month.
In the Citi Open's first completed match, Louisa Chirico beat Heather Watson 6-3, 6-0. It was Watson's first tournament appearance since she pushed eventual champion Serena Williams to three sets in the third round at Wimbledon. Yulia Putintseva got past Kurumi Nara 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4), and sixth-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu defeated Madison Brengle 6-4, 6-0.
In men's action, Gabashvili outlasted Benjamin Becker 4-6, 6-1, 6-3; Donald Young beat Tommy Haas 6-3, 6-4; Hyeon Chung defeated Dudi Sela 6-2, 6-1 and now faces reigning US Open champion Marin Cilic; James Duckworth eliminated Ryan Harrison 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) and will meet US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori; and Victor Estrella Burgos edged Nicolas Jarry 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to set up a match against eighth-seeded John Isner.
In doubles, the second stop on Mardy Fish's farewell tour began with a victory. Fish, who plans to retire after the US Open, teamed with Grigor Dimitrov to beat last year's Wimbledon champions, Jack Sock and Vasek Pospisil.
Murray and Daniel Nestor lost in doubles at night.
In singles, Murray's season so far: three titles and a 48-7 record.
"The year as a whole, obviously, has been good. It's been much, much better than last year. So there's been some progress there," Murray said. "But obviously I want to keep trying to do better, and hopefully these next few weeks, I can go on a good run on hard courts and finish the year strong."
At the majors, Murray reached one final (losing to Djokovic at the Australian Open) and a pair of semi-finals (losing to Djokovic again at the French Open).
"In terms of goals, one of the things I spoke about at the beginning of the year was consistency, and trying to make sure I did better at more of the events than I had done in the past. And I feel like that's obviously been a positive," Murray said.
"The Grand Slams are tournaments I want to win. Haven't quite managed to do that yet this year, but I feel like I've played well in all of the Slams. The French Open was the best I've ever played on the clay. The Australian Open, I was very close there, I felt. And unfortunately at Wimbledon, Roger played an unbelievable match. He served extremely well there and was just too good on that day."
Results on Monday from the first day of the ATP and WTA Washington Open (x denotes seeding):
Chung Hyeon (KOR) bt Dudi Sela (ISR) 6-2, 6-1
James Duckworth (AUS) bt Ryan Harrison (USA) 6-1, 7-6 (7/4)
Victor Estrella Burgos (DOM) bt Nicolas Jarry (CHI) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Go Soeda (JPN) bt Darian King (BAR) 6-2, 6-1
Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) bt Marinko Matosevic (AUS) 6-3, 6-3
Alexander Zverev (GER) bt Yoshi Nishioka (JPN) 7-6 (7/1), 6-3
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) bt Lu Yen-Hsun (TPE) 7-6 (7/1), 6-3
Donald Young (USA) bt Tommy Haas (GER) 6-3, 6-4
Teymuraz Gabashvili (RUS) bt Benjamin Becker (GER) 4-6, 6-1, 6-3
Louisa Chirico (USA) bt Heather Watson (GBR) 6-3, 6-0
Irina-Camelia Begu (ROM x6) bt Madison Brengle (USA) 6-4, 6-0
Monica Niculescu (ROM) bt Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) 7-5, 6-4
Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) bt Kurumi Nara (JPN) 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4)
Alize Cornet (FRA x5) bt An-Sophie Mestach (BEL) 6-3, 6-3
Irina Falconi (USA) bt Taylor Townsend (USA) 6-7 (4/7), 6-1, 6-3
Lauren Davis (USA) bt Zarina Diyas (KAZ x8) 7-5, 2-1 retired