WASHINGTON (AP) -- 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 U.S. Open tuneup that began 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 highly seeded players, Murray received a first-round bye, so his initial match in Washington, where he hasn't played since he was the 2006 runner-up, comes Wednesday against Benjamin Becker or Teymuraz Gabashvili. 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 semifinals at the All England Club last month.
In the Citi Open's first completed match, Louisa Chirico of the U.S. beat Heather Watson of Britain 6-3, 6-0.
"It takes quite a bit of time to get used to the conditions again and that's why I arrived here (last) Tuesday," said Murray, who went on a guided tour of the White House. "That would be the earliest I arrive to any event before my first match, pretty much in the whole year."
His 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 semifinals (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."
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