Monaco magic makes Murray relinquish title

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The Independent Online

Defending champion Andy Murray crashed out of the Valencia Open yesterday with an out-of-sorts display against Juan Monaco in the second round.

The Scot was top seed at the Spanish event but was largely outplayed by his Argentinian opponent as a second-set revival failed to spark him into life.

Murray had beaten Roger Federer in the final of the Shanghai Masters in his last tournament but took two weeks out to rest and attend his brother Jamie's wedding before arriving in Spain. He admitted he was not at his best in physical terms.

"Juan played very well. I know he has been injured for a while but today he proved that he is a great player. He played a very consistent game," Murray said. "He doesn't usually make many mistakes and it's easy to lose against him if you are not on top of your game."

Murray had begun the defence of his title in Valencia brightly with a straight-sets win over the world No 31 Feliciano Lopez on Tuesday. That match was not without its moments of difficulty and the player from Dunblane found an even tougher obstacle in the world No 25 Monaco as he succumbed to a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 loss.

Murray got off to a poor start as his second service game was broken to hand Monaco a 3-1 advantage. A double-fault in the fifth game saw Murray struggling before he eventually served out for 3-2.

He was soon 5-2 down when again his serve let him down, allowing a cool Monaco to take the set in comfortable fashion.

The second set began poorly for the Scot as he was immediately broken in the first game. He responded straight away by breaking Monaco to go level at 1-1, before establishing his authority and finding his serve to take the set 6-2.

The momentum was with the Briton heading into the third and decisive set but Monaco was in no mood to roll over, his superior statistics on service and his ability to hold his nerve at key points giving him the upper hand.

It did not take Monaco long to break Murray and take a firm grip on the match and the Argentine had victory in his sights with Murray serving at 5-2.

Murray started the game strongly but Monaco kept himself in it before getting to 40-30 and match point, holding his nerve to break the world No 4 again to complete his move into the third round.