More questions for Andy Murray to answer after another agonising defeat
A familiar pattern has developed for Andy Murray over the last couple of years and continued as he was beaten in his first tournament in China.
After a promising start in the Zhuhai Championships, the former world No 1 blew an early lead as he crashed to defeat against Aslan Karatsev in the last 16.
Murray won the first set against his world No 63 opponent but Karatsev fought back to punish the Scot’s inconsistent serve and win 4-6 6-3 6-2.
It was the first meeting between Murray and the Russian since they faced each other in last year’s final of the Sydney Tennis Classic, which Karatsev won in straight sets.
But Murray put himself in a strong position to exact revenge after saving four early break points and going on to fashion two breaks and take the opener.
Murray had jetted to China on the back of helping Great Britain into the Davis Cup quarter-finals and beat wild card Ye Cong Mo in the opening round on Thursday.
And fatigue possibly began to take its toll as Karatsev put himself in a dominant position in the second set, going 4-1 up. Despite a mini Murray revival, he held on to level the match.
Karatsev stepped up a gear in the decider, reeling off two consecutive breaks to take a 4-0 advantage which Murray never looked likely to recover.
The defeat was a familar story for Murray, who has struggled to string wins together in a season that has been stuck in neutral over the last few months.
He won back-to-back grass court events at Surbiton and Nottingham in June, but those two tournaments were at ATP Challenger level.
When he has tried to step it up against better quality opposition, Murray has come up short more often than not and the same story played out against Karatsev.
Murray’s eagerness to continue his career is commendable as he continues to struggle to pick up wins and lift his ranking into the top 30, with his recent comments suggesting he is beginning to question how long he can continue trying to beat the odds and return to the top of the game at the age of 36.
He has not made it past the third round of a Grand Slam event since 2017 and admitted at the US Open last month that he is now doubting whether he can revive his career.
“It’s obviously disappointing to not play how you would like,” said Murray
“Maybe I need to accept that, these events, I had the deep runs and everything that I felt like I’m capable of, they might not be there, as well.
“I’m aware what I’m doing, it’s unbelievably challenging to play at the highest level as I am now. And some days it’s harder than others.
“Ultimately these (Grand Slams) are the events that you want to play your best tennis in and create more great moments, and I didn’t do that this year.
“I still enjoy everything that goes into playing at a high level. I enjoy the work. The training and trying to improve and trying to get better, I do still enjoy that and that’s what keeps me going.
“If things change and I stop enjoying that or my results, my ranking and everything, if I start to go backwards in that respect, in a few months’ time I was ranked 60 in the world or whatever instead of moving up the way, things might change.”
‘If Rafael Nadal wins Roland Garros, that’s superhuman,’ says former player
“It’s colossal to be ready to make these efforts when we have won as much as he has,” according to Santoro.
Rafael Nadal’s expected outfits for Brisbane and Australian Open revealed – One kit is very bright
What colours will Rafael Nadal wear at the Brisbane International and the Australian Open?
Iga Swiatek makes Aryna Sabalenka admission after their intense battle for year-end No 1 ranking
“She deserved it,” said Swiatek of Sabalenka.
ATP chief warns against ‘civil war’ in tennis amid radical breakaway tour rumours
Rumours of a breakaway tennis tour have been circulating in recent months.
Nick Kyrgios joins Only Fans and promises to reveal ‘intimate side’ of his life
Kyrgios will not be displaying the most private parts of his relationship with his girlfriend Costeen Hatzi.
Rafael Nadal makes candid confession as he addresses whether 2024 will be his final season
Rafael Nadal has spoken openly about how much longer he is likely to keep playing.
How Novak Djokovic stepped to the next level by building his perfect tennis shoe
Djokovic saluted ASICS innovator Rene Zandbergen at a pre-Wimbledon event attended by Tennis365 last summer.
Jack Draper reveals Alzheimer’s disease has had a ‘cruel’ impact on one of his biggest tennis inspirations
Draper is working with Alzheimer’s Society in the UK and is hoping to raise awareness of what he describes as a ‘cruel’ condition.
Toni Nadal makes Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz admission as he assesses Rafael Nadal hopes
Toni Nadal has discussed his nephew’s chances of winning another French Open title.
Top coach explains how Jannik Sinner could replicate Novak Djokovic in big 2024 claim
Jannik Sinner has been backed to have a huge 2024 season and mirror something Novak Djokovic achieved.