Comment – Andy Murray needs to solve a glaring problem after squandering seven match points in Paris defeat

Andy Murray

Andy Murray never used to come out second in tight matches of the variety he lost in Paris on Monday evening, but he will surely continue to come up short unless he solves one, glaring problem.

Former world No.1 Murray spurned a remarkable seven match points as he crashed out in the first round of the Paris Masters to German lucky loser Dominik Koepfer, with this defeat as desperate as any in his long and illustrious career.

The Scot had looked set to rally from the brink of defeat after defying Koepfer when the German served for the match at 5-4 in the second set.

But having reeled off two successive breaks of serve to force a decider, Murray missed his first two match points on the Koepfer serve at 5-4, before blowing five more in an 18-minute tie-break to fall 6-4 5-7 7-6 (9).

It capped an amazing shift in fortunes for Koepfer, who had been thumped 6-3 6-0 by Miomar Kecmanovic in the final round of qualifying only to earn a second chance following the withdrawal of Murray’s original opponent, Jenson Brooksby.

This was a tough defeat to take for Murray, but he only had himself to blame after a sluggish start to the match was backed up by some poor shot choices in crucial moments, especially on the second of his seven drop shots.

Yet the big issue that has undermined his efforts both in his defeat against Carlos Alcaraz in Vienna last week and in this latest defeat against Koepfer was a desperate lack of consistency on his first serve.

When he landed his first serve, Murray won plenty of cheap points behind it, but he couldn’t find it on crucial points and a final percentage of just 49 per-cent in play on his first serve isn’t good enough.

He had only 51 per-cent against Alcaraz last week and if Murray is to continue his mission to get back to the top of the game in 2022, this is an area he needs to improve as each and every service game will be an ordeal if he continues to serve like this.

“It felt like at times I was missing a ton of first serves in a row,” said Murray after the match, confirming an issue that was clear for all to see.

“Didn’t hit my second serve well either, which the last couple of weeks has been better. So there were a number of things that I didn’t do well enough tonight, and the reasons for that, I’m not sure.

“I don’t think I deserved to win. Obviously, I had a ton of opportunities at the end, but the way that I was playing tonight was not good enough.

“I found out (about the new opponent) post-practice, so that potentially could explain the slow start. But then, once I was into the match, I just made mistake after mistake.”

This defeat will sting and it will raise questions in Murray’s mind over what happens next as this was a match he would not have lost if he was even close to his best.

After several weeks on tour without injury, he would have hoped to be peaking by now and showing signs that he is ready to go deep in tournaments once again.

Unless he finds a way to improve his misfiring serve, that ambition may remain forlorn.