Below-par Murray knocked out of Abu Dhabi event
Former Abu Dhabi champion Andy Murray made a sluggish start to his season as the Scot lost his opening Mubadala World Tennis Championship match to Janko Tipsarevic on Thursday.
Murray, who won the inaugural MWTC title four years ago, fell 6-3, 6-4 to the Serb No2, who made sure he had a winning debut in the UAE capital displaying some solid tennis.
The match had a bizarre start as rain threatened to postpone the action after Tipsarevic hit his very first serve, but the players stayed on the court as it proved to be a brief shower.
Murray had a look at a break point in the first game as Tipsarevic netted a backhand after a long exchange but the world No9 recovered well to hold.
Three games later, an error strewn service game from Murray capped with a double fault gave Tipsarevic the first break of the game and a 3-1 lead and that break was enough for the Serb to take the opening set in 39 minutes.
Murray continued to struggle with his footwork and was broken in the very first service game of the second set, letting slip a 40-15 lead. The world No3 tried to retaliate in the fourth game but he an erratic backhand unforced error from Murray saw him squander the opportunity and Tipsarevic finds himself up a set a break.
Tipsarevic almost broke again the following game but Murray managed to string together three decent points just as we crossed the hour mark and held on to make 2-3.
But there wasn’t much Murray could do as the errors continued to come off his racquet and in the ninth tenth game, Tipsarevic got his hands on two match points with a phenomenal exchange where he ran down a Murray drop shot then smashed an attempted lob from his opponent.
One decent serve was all he needed and Tipsarevic sealed the win to set up a semi-final clash with Nicolas Almagro on Friday.
Despite the defeat, Murray was happy with his performance.
He said: “It was decent. I thought I hit the ball pretty well. Just the execution of some of my shots wasn’t perfect but that’s pretty normal.
"When you haven’t played a match in a while, and also very different conditions here, it’s quite a quick court, it took a little while to adjust to that. But I was pretty happy with the way I struck the ball for the most part. And just a few things that I can improve on.
“You need to play more matches. I was training in Miami and practicing on the same court and same conditions every day for three, four weeks and when you play in a different place where the court is a little faster and the ball was moving quicker through there, it changes the timing a little bit. It takes more than one practice to adjust to new conditions.”
Meanwhile Tipsarevic was thrilled to get a win over one of the top players in the world under his belt so early in the season.
The Serb said: “I feel great. It’s not every day that you have a chance to play a Grand Slam champion and an Olympic gold medalist. I know it’s an exhibition tournament but I promise you that the six of us are taking this competition very seriously, because these situations might happen very soon, even next week in Chennai, Doha or of course in the Australian Open.”
Tipsarevic, who has a 3-5 head-to-head record against Murray on tour, says he can tell that the Scot is riding high on confidence from his exploits last season and this victory has given the world No9 a boost ahead of the new season.
“I wasn’t expecting anything but I knew I could beat Andy, I’ve beaten him before. But again it’s an exhibition tournament, and if I can call him like that, he’s a totally different animal right now.
"He won a Grand Slam, he won Olympic gold, so he has a lot of confidence behind him from 2012. Beating him here in an exhibition match gives me small confidence for my next tournaments.”