Andy Murray battled bravely but was eventually overcome in straight sets 6-4 6-4 by Ivan Ljubicic in the final of the Qatar Open in Doha yesterday.
The British No 1, who is still struggling with a viral illness, failed to add to his one ATP title, but his encouraging performance throughout the week means he will improve his world ranking to at least No 16.
Ljubicic, the Doha runner-up in 2004 and 2005, said: "Murray is a tough opponent." Murray was similarly complimentary. "Ivan is a great player and a great fighter and I lost to a better player today," the Scot said graciously.
Murray had his best chances early on, but missed six break points in the first game. The Croat saved two more break points to hold for 4-3, then exploited his first set point at 5-4, an opportunity which Murray had set up with a loose drop shot.
Judging by his expression, Murray's coach, Brad Gilbert, does not seem to be a great fan of the Scot's specialty stroke and it proved to be his undoing at the finish. After one break to each man in the second set, Murray showed guts to save two match points at 4-5, but finally succumbed with a limp backhand drop shot into the net.Reuse content