Former world number one Andy Murray says he will not play singles at the US Open later this month.
But his ultimate goal was always returning to singles action after having an operation with former Royal surgeon Sarah Muirhead-Allwood which he described as “life-changing”.
The Scot feared having the operation – where the femur head is smoothed down and covered with a metal cap – would leave him having to call time on an illustrious career which has also seen him win 45 ATP singles titles and two Olympic gold medals.
No player had ever had the operation and then resumed their singles career.
From the moment Murray emerged onto the centre court in Cincinnati, smiling broadly and holding his mobile phone – presumably filming footage which he will use on his social media accounts – it was clear how much it meant to him.
Despite all the Grand Slam finals and title-defining matches, including many against the game’s greats in Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, nerves were still there as he made a slow start.
Starting with a double fault, he went on to lose his serve in the opening game and fought off another break point as former world number seven Gasquet threatened to move 3-0 ahead.
Instead the Briton levelled at 2-2 after breaking back in the next game, only to trail again when Gasquet tested Murray’s ability to change direction quickly on the deuce side of the court – with it being his right hip operated on – with a fizzing forehand winner for a 4-3 lead.
Gasquet, 33, served out the set with little problem, then broke again in the first game of the second set.
Murray continued to struggle to land first serves, although he did manage to stretch out Gasquet’s service games without managing to break back, as the Frenchman went on to seal victory in one hour and 36 minutes.
Gasquet, who missed the first four months of the season after groin surgery, will play Austrian world number four Dominic Thiem in the second round.
BBC Tennis correspondent Russell Fuller
Hard though he tried, Murray was unable to recover from poor service games at the start of both sets.
But he moved through the gears nicely after a very edgy start, and was able to put a lot of pressure on Gasquet’s serve.
With his movement improving, there was one game in the middle of the second set in particular which pointed to a brighter future.
Murray covered a lot of ground to produce a flurry of winners, but the battle-hardened Gasquet still hung on to his serve.
The crowd were very subdued. They were respectful of Gasquet’s superiority, but perhaps had unrealistic aspirations for the returning Murray.