Andy Murray suffers shock defeat in Barcelona Open

 

Andy Murray suffered a surprise exit at the Barcelona Open today, losing in straight sets to big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic.

The 6ft 5in 21-year-old from Ontario, who crushed sixth seed Nicolas Almagro in the last round, headed into the match having never beaten a top-eight player but rarely looked overawed en route to a 6-4 7-6 (7/3) triumph.

He endured a minor blip when serving for the second set, allowing second seed Murray his first break of the match, before breezing through the tie-break to clinch the biggest win of his fledgling career in one hour 44 minutes.

Raonic will face third seed David Ferrer or seventh seed Feliciano Lopez in the semi-finals, the Spanish duo meeting in the second quarter-final in Catalonia.

Murray had little difficulty in the last round against Santiago Giraldo, but knew he was in for a battle from the outset today.

Raonic's fierce forehands helped him bring up a break point in the opening game. Murray survived, but two aces from the world number 25 swiftly levelled things up.

The first set followed a similar pattern - Murray tested on serve and Raonic holding with ease - until game seven, when a loose drop shot from the Scot resulted in a second break point for the youngster, and this time he capitalised to go 4-3 up.

Raonic comfortably held again to move within a game of the set and then, after Murray had dug out the hold with the help of an ace, the Canadian brought up three set points with his ninth ace and duly took the first with a forehand winner.

Having managed only four points on the Raonic serve in the first set, Murray looked brighter at the start of the second set, but continued to struggle to make inroads against the serve.

The Scot served out to love in game three himself, though, and then took Raonic to deuce in game four before the Canadian pulled through with another huge serve.

A superb cross-court winner edged Murray ahead again and again he then troubled the Raonic serve, but could not force the break.

Just when the second set looked to be following the same format as the first, Raonic too passed up two break-point opportunities in game seven as Murray squeezed 4-3 ahead.

But, after powering through another strong service game, Raonic broke Murray to give himself the chance to serve for the match and claim the biggest scalp of his career.

Murray showed his battling qualities by breaking back, though, before two clinical service games took the match into a tie-break.

However, if the Scot thought nerves were getting to Raonic, he was sadly mistaken.

He cruised into a 5-1 lead and, although Murray engineered a chink of light by taking his two points on serve, there was no way back.

PA

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