Miami Masters 2014: Brave Andy Murray let down by umpire error in defeat to Novak Djokovic
Dispute with official sees Scot lose focus and allow world No 2 to break to love and steal the first set
One mistake can turn any match, as Andy Murray discovered to his cost. What was galling for the 26-year-old Scot was that it was not his error that put Novak Djokovic on the way to a 7-5, 6-3 victory in their quarter-final at the Miami Masters but the umpire's.
Both men had been at the top of their form in a first set of the highest quality until Murray served at 5-6. On the opening point Djokovic had what looked to be an easy put-away at the net, but clearly had his racket on Murray's side of the court when he hit the ball. When the point was replayed on the big screen Murray complained to the umpire, Damian Steiner, who insisted, contrary to the video evidence, that the point of contact had been on Djokovic's side of the net.
Murray, having lost his focus, promptly made three backhand errors in succession as Djokovic broke to love to steal the set. It was cruel on Murray, though the Scot's response at the start of the second set was excellent.
Bristling with aggression, Murray hit a succession of bold groundstrokes to break serve in the fifth game. However, as he has done on too many occasions in the past, Murray followed a break with a poor service game of his own, two double-faults and a poor backhand enabling Djokovic to level the score at 3-3.
The match quickly slipped from Murray's grasp from that moment onwards. Djokovic held for 4-3 and then broke his long-time rival to love as the Scot's errors multiplied. The world No 2 went on to serve out for victory after an hour and 30 minutes with another love game.
Djokovic has now won 12 of his 20 meetings with Murray. This was their first meeting at the quarter-final stage of a tournament for six years, which is one of the prices Murray has paid for falling to No 6 in the world rankings. He is likely to drop further next week.
If there was disappointment at his continuing failure to beat a top-10 opponent – Murray has not done so since he beat Djokovic in last year's Wimbledon final – there are positives that the Scot can take from his performances at one of his favourite tournaments.
The Scot has a second home in Miami, which is also his training base. He is familiar with both the courts at Crandon Park and the hot and humid conditions, though Djokovic is equally at home there. Between them the two men have won five of the last seven Miami tournaments.
Murray's form had been patchy since he began his comeback three months ago following back surgery, but there has been an upturn in his form in Miami, despite the disappointment of his split with coach Ivan Lendl, who turned up once again to support his former charge.
The Scot needed pain-killers after appearing to hurt his left hip in his previous match 24 hours earlier, but there did not seem to be any problems with his movement this time.
Djokovic has also run into form this month, having claimed his first title of the year in Indian Wells 11 days ago. The world No 2 goes on to face the winner of the match between Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori.
Floyd Mayweather next opponent: Mayweather more likely to pick a former foe than a fresh contender like Amir Khan in Las Vegas lottery
Manchester United transfer news: Adnan Januzaj to be offered in deal for Memphis Depay
Jose Mourinho: 'The dogs bark and the caravan goes by,' Chelsea manager gives cryptic assessment after Blues win title
Arsenal transfer news: Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini set for showdown summer talks over future
Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger reveals: 'We are not close to signing anybody. We need to lose some players'
- 1 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 5 YouTube social experiment shows just how easy it is to kidnap a child
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils