Murray falls back into bad habits with crushing defeat to world No 35


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Andy Murray had hoped his springtime woes were behind him but the 24-year-old Scot went out of the Montreal Masters yesterday with a performance that brought back memories of his post-Australian Open slump earlier this year. Murray, who was attempting to win the Canadian title for the third year in succession, was on court for only 69 minutes as he was crushed 6-3, 6-1 by Kevin Anderson, the world No 35.

Murray looked ring-rusty in his first tournament appearance since Wimbledon. The world No 4 struggled to find his timing and made far too many errors, with his normally reliable backhand particularly problematic. One attempted drop shot by the Scot even bounced before it hit the net, while five double-faults, including two as he was broken in his opening service game, contributed to his malaise.

It was Murray's first defeat in his opening encounter at a tournament since his dreadful run in the spring, when he failed to win a match at Rotterdam, Indian Wells and Miami. He is planning to play one more tournament, next week's Cincinnati Masters, before the start of the US Open in 19 days' time, but will first partner his brother, Jamie, in the Montreal doubles. The Scots face the Canadians Erik Chvojka and Pierre-Ludovic Duclos in the first round.

Murray broke Anderson's serve eight times in their only previous meeting at last year's Australian Open, but there was never a chance of a repeat of that on this occasion. The 6ft 8in South African, who has climbed rapidly up the rankings, took full advantage of his height advantage to serve consistently throughout. He was also admirably aggressive, regularly taking the game to Murray and attacking the net.

Anderson dropped only one point in his first three service games and served out for the first set in 37 minutes with an ace. Murray was broken again in the first game of the second set. Anderson saved the only two break points he had to defend all match to hold for 3-1 and went on to break serve twice more, double-faults again helping to bring about Murray's downfall.