Andy Murray concedes he needs to "keep improving" in his bid to return to fitness after he was beaten by Roberto Bautista Agut in their hastily arranged one-set exhibition match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship on Friday.
The three-time major winner was beaten 6-2 at the International Tennis Stadium at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi.
He said in his courtside interview after the match: "I felt better as I went on. Obviously I made a slow start and Roberto is one of the best players in the world. When you haven't competed for a while it takes time to get up to that pace. I started to feel a bit better towards the end but I need to keep improving for sure."
Murray, who has not played competitively since losing to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon in July due to a hip injury, is on a short stopover in Abu Dhabi en route to Australia where he is slated to play in the Brisbane International starting January 4 and hopes to able to play the Australian Open less than two weeks later.
He had taken part in a 90-minute long training session on Thursday on one of the practice courts at Zayed Sports City.
The Scot, 30, agreed to play the match after Novak Djokovic had withdrawn from the tournament earlier on Friday, choosing to rest the elbow injury that has sidelined him since July.
Djokovic had been due to face Bautista Agut in the semi-finals. Although the Spaniard received a bye to the final, where he faces Kevin Anderson on Saturday, the tournament organisers approached Murray, a two-time Mubadala champion, to play an exhibition set against the world No 20 to give spectators an evening match with the advertised semi-final featuring Djokovic cancelled.
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Bautista Agut dominated the encounter, though Murray, who appeared limited in both movement and power, particularly in his serve, did show his mettle by holding serve in a 12-minute long seventh game.
Of the unexpected time on court, Murray said: "It was nice. I was just planning on stopping here for a couple of days on the way to Australia to get some practice in with the guys.
"But obviously it was unfortunate that Novak was not able to play and I was here so I agreed to play a set and obviously I am happy to be able to come out here and play in front of everyone. It was good fun. I have missed it and hopefully I can come back again."