Murray crashes to straight-sets loss in first match back after break

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The Independent Online

Andy Murray crashed out in the first round of the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam last night after a straight-sets loss to Marcos Baghdatis.

Beaten by Novak Djokovic last month in the Australian Open final, Murray chose the Dutch event for his return to action, but after a bright start his level dipped and was defeated 6-4, 6-1.

As the 2009 champion, Murray headed to Rotterdam looking for his first title of 2011, but also knowing he had been handed perhaps the most difficult opening match possible against the dangerous but unseeded Cypriot Baghdatis.

Murray had won their most recent match, in the third round at the French Open last year, but Baghdatis had beaten the Scot in their two prior meetings, including their Wimbledon tussle in 2006.

Five years ago, Murray was an exciting teenage prospect and Baghdatis, two years his senior, was coming off an appearance in the Australian Open final.

Plenty has changed since then, with Murray standing fifth in the world rankings, having been to three Grand Slam finals.

Baghdatis, 20th in the world and hopeful of a return to the top 10 after coming back well from a career dip, is an almost unplayable opponent when in the right mood. The early signs were this would not rank as one of his better days, but that soon changed.

Murray broke the 25-year-old's serve twice right at the start of the match, but then came an unexpected twist when Baghdatis also claimed a break and consolidated it to edge back to 3-2 behind.

And when he pegged Murray back to 4-4, and then held serve to lead, the contest was on.

Murray was powerless to stop Baghdatis breaking serve for a third time to take the opening set.

And when the Cypriot forced another break in the fourth game of the second set to sweep 3-1 in front of a flagging Murray, he had victory in sight and it was not long in arriving.

Top-ranked Nadal can return to training after recovering from a leg muscle injury sustained during his quarter-final loss at the Australian Open.

Nadal tore a muscle in his right leg during a straight-sets defeat to fellow Spaniard David Ferrer on 26 January.

But Nadal says his doctor has cleared him to return to the court to begin preparing for Spain's Davis Cup first-round series in Belgium on 4 to 6 March.

Nadal said: "I am going to start training slowly, following a plan, so that there are no setbacks."

The Australian Open injury kept Nadal from holding all four Grand Slam titles at once. The 24-year-old said he cried in the changing room after his loss to Ferrer.