Leading article: Grace in defeat

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So talk of an imminent Andy Murray tennis conquest Down Under was premature. The young Scot could not summon up the form that had delivered him 11 successive victories this year and he exited the Australian Open at the hands of Spain's Fernando Verdasco in the fourth round. Murray has something of a reputation for lacking charm. But that was not in evidence yesterday. His post-match analysis was full of grace and generosity towards his opponent.

Rather than blaming illness for his surprise defeat, he stressed that Verdasco "was just too good for me". The world's number four ranked player even managed a joke about the likelihood of him being picked out as a pre-tournament favourite by the bookies again.

Murray suffered a disappointing professional defeat yesterday. But, in character terms, who can doubt that he emerged from Melbourne Park a more substantial figure?