Andy Murray says he's in the 'bad books' after losing ring
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Andy Murray’s 2021 season came to an end with a defeat at the hands of world No 52 Tommy Paul. The Brit battled back from a set down to force a decider during his second quarter-final in two years, but a double fault cost him the match after a close third set as the American sealed a 6-2 3-6 6-3 victory.
Murray had secured an impressive straight-sets win over top seed and world No 10 Jannik Sinner on Wednesday evening, while Paul had convincingly defeated compatriot and new American No 1 Taylor Fritz, leaving both men confident heading into the quarter-final.
Paul’s momentum continued as he chose to receive first, striking in the third game of the match to break the former world No 1’s serve and lead early in the match.
The Brit then failed to fend off the world No 52 in a lengthy seven-deuce service game, as Paul broke once again on his fifth break point to lead 4-1.
The pair continued to trade breaks, as Murray secured his first break point of the match and started to get himself back into the match, clawing back a game for 2-4.
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However, the three-time Grand Slam champion’s comeback was short-lived as the 24-year-old reeled off two games in a row, taking the opening set 6-2 following a poor performance on serve from the Brit.
Murray won just 46% of his first serve points and 38% on his second serve, compared to Paul’s 73% and 57%, despite the pair both having a similar number of first serves in with 65% and 69% respectively.
The current world No 143 didn’t appear dejected from his one-sided first-set loss, starting the second with a hold to love, as the American then did the same.
This time it was the Brit who was first to pounce, breaking midway through the second set to go 4-2 up, and he closed things out 6-3 to force a decider as his opponent’s intestity dropped.
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Having dragged himself back into contention after being outplayed for the better part of an hour, Murray served his first double-fault of the match at 3-4 to give Paul a crucial break and allow his opponent to serve for the match, as the Brit complained that someone in the crowd had made a noise during his second serve.
The American then held to love to seal a 6-2 3-6 6-3 victory, and will now face compatriot Frances Tiafoe, who Murray recently beat in a thrilling three-set encounter in Antwerp, after which the pair chatted in the locker room for half an hour – something Murray said was “rare” in his career.
Paul then called his opponent a “legend” during his on-court interview, and admitted he even looked to his coach during the match to say how much fun he was having.
It means Murray’s 2021 season comes to an end with a 13-14 win-loss record for the Brit.
His season did not properly start until Wimbledon, where he made it to the third round be beating 24th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili and qualifier Oscar Otte in dramatic four and five-set clashes on Centre Court.
The former world No 1’s comeback had continued to gain momentum as the year went on, as he secured two victories during the North American hard-court swing before pushing third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas to five sets in the US Open first-round.
Murray then made his first quarter-final in just under two years at the Moselle Open, and had a strong showing in Indian Wells where he beat world No 51 Adrian Mannarino and teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz before pushing world No 4 Alexander Zverev in two tight sets.
He also recently picked up two of the best wins of his comeback, beating then-world No 10 Hubert Hurkacz in three sets at the Erste Bank Open just weeks ago, and defeating current world No 10 and top seed Sinner this week in Stockholm, with a convincing 7-6(4) 6-3 victory.
The world No 143 will now go into the off-season following the most promising results since his hip resurfacing surgery two and a half years ago, and will likely be looking to appoint Esteban Carril full-time, having tested out a trial period with Johanna Konta’s former coach in Stockholm this week.
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