Murray battered by Fish

Scot's worrying slump continues with straight-sets defeat by world No 101

It is way too early to describe the situation as a crisis, but Andy Murray's recent struggles took their most serious twist yet when he lost to Mardy Fish, a journeyman American, in his opening match at the Miami Masters last night.

Murray, the defending champion, was beaten 6-4 6-4 by a 28-year-old opponent who is ranked No 101 in the world and has only ever won three minor titles. The last time that Murray lost to a player outside the world's top 100 was when he was beaten by Fabio Fognini in Canada three years ago, when the Scot was coming back from a serious wrist injury.

Serving without conviction and looking particularly vulnerable on his forehand, Murray let slip a 3-1 lead in the first set and looked increasingly out of sorts as the match progressed. At one stage the world No 3 screamed out in frustration: "What's going on?"

Fish, who has been recovering from a serious knee injury, has a big serve and powerful ground strokes but makes plenty of errors. However, his confidence quickly rose as Murray's problems grew.

Having started the season in such exhilarating fashion by reaching the Australian Open final, Murray has run into trouble at what had become one of his favourite periods of the year. The 22-year-old Scot, who has a property in Miami and trains there on a regular basis, is usually at his best playing on American hard courts, but his early exit here followed a quarter-final defeat by Robin Soderling in Indian Wells earlier this month.

This latest setback opens the way for Rafael Nadal to reclaim his world No 3 ranking and Murray is fortunate that Juan Martin del Potro, the No 5, is currently out with a wrist injury. He will now prepare for the European clay-court season and may well opt to play next in the Monte Carlo Masters next month, having originally omitted it from his schedule.

Fish beat Murray on their first meeting, but that was five years ago when the Scot was just 18. They had met three times subsequently, Murray winning in straight sets on each occasion.

A similar outcome seemed likely when Murray made the first break of serve in the fourth game with a fine backhand winner down the line. From 40-0 up in the next game, however, he let Fish off the hook, wasting game points with careless errors.

Fish broke back courtesy of two double faults and at 4-4 broke again after two horrible forehand errors by Murray. The American wasted his first set point with a lame attempt at a drop shot and should not have converted his second, but Murray put what looked to be a routine backhand into the net.

Clearly encouraged, Fish broke in the opening game of the second set, punishing a weak serve with a backhand winner down the line. When he held serve to love in the following game the American had won seven of the previous eight games.

Murray had two break points when Fish served at 4-3 only for his opponent to serve his way out of trouble. Two games later, as Fish served for the set, one ace saved a break point and another set up a match point, which he converted with a crisp volley.

Novak Djokovic, the world No 2, had gone out of the tournament 24 hours earlier, losing 6-2 6-7 6-4 to Belgium's Olivier Rochus. While the Serb tried to put a brave face on his defeat, welcoming the extra time he would have to prepare for the clay-court season, this could prove to be a significant loss, particularly after his fourth-round exit in Indian Wells. Like Murray, Djokovic usually performs well at this time of the year, having won in both Indian Wells and Miami.

Although his place behind Roger Federer in the world rankings is secure for the moment, Djokovic has dropped 665 ranking points over the last fortnight.

Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living