Andy Murray's run brought to a halt by Ernests Gulbis at Montreal Masters
Wimbledon champion loses on return but will benefit from tough test as the US Open looms
Thursday 08 August 2013
Andy Murray's comeback after winning Wimbledon proved short-lived after he was beaten in straight sets by world No 38 Ernests Gulbis in the third round of the Rogers Cup in Montreal.
The world No 2 lost 6-4, 6-3 in his first tournament since lifting the Wimbledon trophy, a result which brought to an end Murray's 13-match unbeaten run.
He had been hoping for a longer run in Canada, where he has twice won the title, but after missing the first chance of the match with two break points in game eight he could not contain the up-and-coming Gulbis.
The Scot had shown he was short of match sharpness during his defeat of Marcel Granollers in the previous round, and offered a starker illustration of the fact that he still has some work to do to get match fit after his lay-off.
He will now move on to next week's Cincinnati Masters, hoping to hone that sharpness before the defence of his US Open title in New York later this month.
Gulbis is on the rise. He has climbed 100 places in the rankings since the turn of the year and won the title at Delray Beach. The 24-year-old from Latvia has now beaten Murray for the first time in six attempts.
Murray's first-serve percentage was over 80 per cent for much of the first set but Gulbis was quick to take advantage when allowed the opportunity to attack the Briton's second serve.
An immaculate drop shot helped him to three set points at 5-4, and he took the second of those with a backhand return off Murray's second serve.
It the second set Murray fell behind 3-1 as Gulbis unleashed some heavy hitting. The Scot broke straight back with a brilliant backhand winner after some great defensive work, but the often inconsistent Gulbis proved far sharper in the closing stages. A fine lob and another superb drop shot helped him break for the third time to lead 5-3, and he sealed the win with his seventh ace of the day.
"The thing that pleased me the most was that I won," said Gulbis, who will now face either Juan Martin del Potro or Milos Raonic in the quarter-final.
"I struggled in the first set from the baseline but got more confident and took my chances. I didn't blink when serving out for the match but I didn't play my best tennis. I hope I will be even better tomorrow. I am excited because I have been ranked 150 coming into this year. I have been struggling and been up and down but I'm going to surely getting back to where I belong. With one or two big wins, you're there in the top 10."
Although Murray will be disappointed to have lost, this tough work-out can only have benefited him as he seeks to regain his peak fitness and form in time to defend his first, and breakthrough, major, in the United States.
Murray is actually still involved in this tournament. He is competing in the doubles with fellow Scot Colin Fleming.
Meanwhile, Rafa Nadal, who was so disappointing at Wimbledon, progressed in this tournament beating SW19 semi-finalist Jerzy Janowicz of Poland 7-6, 6-4.
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