“Doubles is done for me for the time being,” said Andy Murray on Thursday night, despite earning a place in the quarter-finals of the Cincinnati Masters alongside his Spanish partner Feliciano Lopez.
Clearly, the remark does not mean that Murray will abandon his Cincinnati campaign – which continued on Friday night with defeat to elder brother Jamie. That was to be Andy’s final doubles tournament for the moment.
In his post-match press conference on Thursday night, he revealed that he will not be playing at the US Open after all – where he had originally intended to enter the men’s and mixed doubles – in order to concentrate on building back towards his optimal level of singles.
In other words, Murray’s grand-slam singles return looks likely to happen at January’s Australian Open, exactly a year after the obituaries were pronounced on his career.
Murray’s seven-month absence from the singles court ended in Cincinnati on Monday. His 6-4, 6-4 defeat at the hands of Richard Gasquet showed off his enduring hand skills but also underlined how far away he is from peak physical condition.
"I'm not going to play doubles at the US Open," Murray told the BBC’s Russell Fuller on Thursday night. "My goal is to get back playing at the level that I want to on the singles court, and I've decided that I need to focus all my energies on that right now.
"The US Open, doubles and mixed, can be another couple of weeks that you are slowing things down."
Murray will thus play at least one more singles match next week in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, after accepting the final wild card into that ATP 250 event.
“I want matches, and that's what I need right now," said Murray, who is aiming to become the first man to reach the top of the singles game with a metal hip.
"It doesn't feel like I need to play the main draw of every single tour event. I've hardly played the last couple of years and, having discussed with my team, after this week I think doubles is done for me for the time being.
"I need to focus my mind on getting matches on the singles court. There aren't many tournaments between now and the end of the year."
As to whether he might play a Challenger-level tournament during the US Open, Murray replied: "It depends how Winston-Salem goes. The feeling I have had since my singles was that I played decent, but that physically between now and the end of the year I want to get matches in so that for the beginning of next year, I'm feeling ready.
"So if I do well in Winston-Salem, I'll know my level is good enough and I'm ready to win matches at tour level, but if not it makes sense to drop down a level and maybe play some smaller tournaments."
Thursday was an eventful evening in Andy Murray-land. On the court, he and Lopez needed a match tiebreak to edge past their American opponents, Ryan Harrison and Jack Sock, by a 2-6, 6-3, 10-7 scoreline. This was an impressive comeback win from a set down – the team’s second in a row – against a dangerous pair of opponents.
Then on Friday, in what was only the second match in which the two Murrays have played competitive tennis against each other at senior level, it was Jamie that came out on top.
After Andy Murray and Lopez took the first set via a tie break, Jamie and partner Neal Skupski won the second set 7-5, forcing the match to a third-set tie-break, which Jamie Murray and Skupski won 10-4.
Finally, Murray found time to condemn Nick Kyrgios’ boorish behaviour from Wednesday night. In a three-set defeat at the hands of world No 9 Karen Khachanov, Kyrgios was repeatedly abusive towards umpire Fergus Murphy. He has already been hit with a $113,000 fine, which far exceeds his prize money from the event, and could face further action from the ATP tour.
"It wasn't good, and I felt for Fergus as he shouldn't have to put up with that," Murray told the BBC.
"I chatted to him [Kyrgios] a little bit after the match. It's obviously up to him, and I think for the most part a couple of weeks ago in Washington [where Kyrgios lifted his second title of the year], he did a good job of helping himself and using the crowd.
"But obviously this week, he went back to what he was doing before. You just hope he will figure it out, because a week like in Washington is really good for tennis, but last night isn't.”
The strong friendship between the two men has been underlined this week by Kyrgios’s presence at courtside for Murray’s matches, including Thursday night’s doubles victory.