Andy Murray vs David Ferrer match report: Fitness proved, but hopes of reaching ATP World Tour Finals dealt serious blow

Spaniard defeats Murray 2-6 6-1 6-2 to deal British No 1 a major blow in his hunt to return to the top eight in the world rankings

Click to follow

Andy Murray’s Chinese adventure did not finish as well as it had started but the Scot could take heart from the fact that he emerged unscathed from his biggest physical test since returning from back surgery at the start of the season. Murray’s 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 defeat here by David Ferrer in the third round of the Shanghai Rolex Masters came in his 11th match in the last 15 days.

“My back felt pretty good considering I’ve played every single day since I arrived in China nearly three weeks ago,” Murray said. “The back has responded fairly well, which is good. The rest of my body has felt a bit sore from time to time. Playing on hard courts can be tough on the hips in particular. But otherwise my body was pretty good.”

Asked if he felt his back issues were in the past, Murray said: “Yes and no. I know what it was like, so I need to make sure I stay on top of it. I’m aware problems can come back if you don’t look after it properly. I certainly won’t be doing anything silly in training or away from the court.

“I still have to make sure I stay away from certain things when I’m not playing tennis or training. I don’t play golf any more and I don’t do any go-karting. I play football occasionally but not as much as I used to, so I still stay away from some things. But the last few weeks have been positive in that respect.”

On the court, nevertheless, Murray still has work to do. His China campaign started with a hard-fought tournament victory in Shenzhen as he won his first title for 14 months, but he lost in straight sets to Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals in Beijing and was ultimately outplayed by Ferrer here. Murray played some of his best tennis in the opening set, but after dropping serve at the start of the second – upon which he smashed his racket on the floor in frustration – he struggled to match Ferrer’s consistent ball-striking.

The defeat could be crucial in the “Race to London”. The eight players who earn the most ranking points in 2014 will qualify for the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena. Murray is now in 10th place, having been overtaken by Ferrer.

While the Spaniard will have his work cut out to make further progress here – in Friday’s quarter-finals he faces Djokovic, who won his 27th match in succession on Chinese soil when he beat Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 – Tomas Berdych can strengthen his chances. The Czech, who is seventh on the qualifying list, is the  highest-ranked player left in the bottom half of the Shanghai draw.

Murray has two more tournaments in which he  can make up ground. He will take a break next week and will then play in either Valencia or Basel before competing in the year’s final Masters Series tournament in Paris.  “Hopefully I can play well in the last couple of tournaments and try and make a push for London,” he said.