Qatar Open: Defeated Andy Murray short of practice ahead of Australian Open
Briton suffered the loss in the second round in Doha
Andy Murray had talked earlier in the week of wanting “to get a total of seven or eight matches under my belt between now and the Australian Open”. The world No 4’s target will have to be revised after his defeat here on Wednesday by Germany’s Florian Mayer in the second round of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open.
Murray had appeared on course for an impressive victory when he led by one set and three games to love, only for Mayer to launch an all-out attack and turn the match around to win 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Murray also went out of the doubles, Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares beating the Scot and Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic 7-6, 6-4.
With the Australian Open just 11 days away, Murray will now head for Melbourne. He will link up in Australia with his coach, Ivan Lendl, and will spend next week practising, though he also expects to play one match at the exhibition event at Kooyong.
This was the Wimbledon champion’s comeback tournament after more than three months off the circuit following back surgery. Although he would have liked to have gone into the year’s opening Grand Slam event having played more matches, he said he had not had any high expectations this week and preferred to reflect on the positives.
“Today was a good day for me,” Murray said. “I lost two matches, but it’s good I got through them without any injuries or niggles. I just feel a general stiffness and soreness from getting used to the impact again of playing matches on a hard court. It doesn’t matter how much you do in training or practice, it’s just a different intensity. I needed to play matches.”
Murray had looked in excellent shape for the first 45 minutes. Bristling with aggression, he forced Mayer on to the back foot and took the first set with two breaks of serve. Murray’s frequently clenched fists were evidence of his determination to press home his advantage, but from 0-3 down in the second set Mayer threw caution to the wind and went for his shots.
The world No 40 admitted that at that stage “in my mind, the match was finished”. However, as Murray started to slow down and move with less freedom – he used an ice pack on his back during changeovers in the third set – the Scot won only three of the last 15 games.
“I felt like my service speed and movement slowed down in the second set,” Murray said. “It wasn’t a particular area that was sore. It was joints rather than muscles. I was just a bit sore from changing direction and playing at that level. But I was playing well. I played some good tennis today. I moved well at the beginning of the match, so that was a positive, and I did say the only way to feel better is by playing matches. So today was a start.”
On a good day for German players, Daniel Brands beat David Ferrer, the world No 3, 6-4, 7-5, while Tobias Kamke gave Rafael Nadal a scare before the world No 1 won 6-3, 6-7, 6-3.
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