Andy Murray falls at first hurdle in Cologne as he goes down in straight sets to Fernando Verdasco
Former world No 1 Andy Murray lost in straight sets against veteran Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the first round of the bett1HULKS Indoors ATP event in Cologne.
Murray had played at the French Open for the first time in three years following a return to the court after battling hip problems, but lost his first-round match in straight sets to Stan Wawrinka.
The veteran Scot was handed a wildcard in Cologne, but was soon up against it as Verdasco, a former world No 7, broke twice to lead 4-1.
Murray rallied to break back before he found his serve under pressure again from Verdasco, who was forced out of contention for the French Open following a positive Covid-19 test.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) October 13, 2020
After saving three break points, Murray, 33, recovered to win the game and reduced the arrears to 4-3.
Verdasco continued to keep the pressure on as he held to move within one game of claiming the opening set.
The 36-year-old Spaniard was, though, made to work for it as Murray forced a break point before then saving two set points.
After another break chance, Murray finally succumbed as Verdasco took the first set 6-4 after almost an hour.
Murray reached the second round of the US Open in September but remains outside the world’s top 100.
The Briton memorably came from two sets down to beat Verdasco in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon on the way to his 2013 singles triumph.
However, Verdasco, ranked 61 in the world, showed little sign of relenting in Tuesday’s late match in Cologne.
The Spaniard forced the first break of the second set, only for Murray to respond immediately and level at 2-2.
Murray was broken again in the seventh game, with Verdasco appearing to close in on victory when he set up a match point on the Briton’s next service game.
The Scot, though, showed he has lost none of his competitive determination to battle back and hold at 5-4 down.
Murray then rallied once more to push Verdasco from the back of the court as he forced three break chances and then saved two match points, the second when coming to the net.
It was, however, only delaying the inevitable as Verdasco, who will face top seed Alexander Zverev in the second round, eventually served out for the match, progressing 6-4, 6-4 after one hour and 40 minutes.
‘I’m definitely really proud of myself,’ says Rebecca Marino ahead of Grand Slam main draw comeback
Marino came through Australian Open qualifying.
Five WTA stars looking to win a maiden Grand Slam in 2021: From Aryna Sabalenka to Karolina Pliskova
Oli Jefford picks out five stars who could win a maiden major.
Nick Kyrgios ‘is the black sheep of the ATP’ and ‘likes attention’, says Stefanos Tsitsipas
“He likes attention,” says Tsitsipas of Kyrgios.
After ‘hell of a tournament’ in 2020, Dominic Thiem’s ‘next big goal is the Australian Open’
Dominic Thiem sets sights on Australian Open.
Surpassing Roger Federer in Grand Slam record race ‘not an obsession’, says Rafael Nadal
“I keep going, doing it my way,” says Rafael Nadal.
Exclusive – Barbara Schett picks her Australian Open favourite and admits star names may struggle
Barbara Schett fancies Ashleigh Barty to enjoy success in Melbourne.
T365 Recalls: Caroline Wozniacki captures sole Grand Slam title at 2018 Australian Open
We look back at Caroline Wozniacki’s moment of glory.
Andy Murray’s tips on how to stay tennis fit during lockdown, featuring burpees, lunges and chin tucks
Andy Murray’s advice on how to stay fit.
Johanna Konta ‘feeling really good and very lucky’ with end of Australian quarantine period in sight
Johanna Konta’s two-week quarantine period nearly over.
CAS hears urgent appeal against doping ban by suspended Dayana Yastremska
Dayana Yastremska hopes to play at Australian Open.