Andy Murray flounders against Mardy Fish
Defending champion Andy Murray slumped to a straight sets defeat to comeback American Mardy Fish in the second round of the Miami Masters Series.
Murray became the second high profile casualty of the tournament after Novak Djokovic lost to Olivier Rochus at the same stage.
In fact Murray showed some disturbing similarities to Djokovic in his demeanour on court as he wilted to a 6-4, 6-4 loss. The Serb has looked unhappy and jaded for months now. He reacted to winning his only major tournament of 2009, the Paris Masters, with a full-blooded scream, a mark of just how much pressure he had felt under throughout the season.
There were plenty of roars from Murray in his opening match at one of his favourite tournaments. The Brit has a house in Miami and he practices on the courts at Crandon Park in the off season but he looked anything but at home today as his forehand deserted him and he groped around for some consistency.
Although Fish is languishing outside the world’s top 100 at the moment, his ranking belies his ability; he has been as high as 17. The form that took him into the top 20 back in 2004 returned as Murray let him back into the match from a commanding position.
The Brit raced to a 3-1 lead courtesy of a fabulous backhand passing shot and at 40-15 up on his own serve the errors started to creep in and a double fault handed the break back to Fish.
He had another break point in the eighth game but the opportunity disappeared with a netted forehand. The same wing let him down again at 4-4 and Fish capitalised on the errors to break.
Murray had another chance to possibly level the match as the world number 101 served for the set. At 40-30 the Murray worked Fish into a vulnerable position at the net but his trademark backhand cross-court passing shot failed him, granting the American an unlikely lead.
Fish is a confidence player and his tail was certainly up going into the second set. Winners started flying from his racket as regularly as errors did from Murray’s. Fish should have been an ideal match up for Murray, the kind of player that the Brit usually outrallies, outplays and outthinks into submission. But that consistency of shot, tactical nous and inspired court craft that usually unravels players was missing.
The American broke him in the opening game of the second set and it was enough for the win, despite a flurry of resistance from the Brit in the seventh game and as Fish was serving for the match.
To his credit, Fish held his nerve when faced with two break points at 4-3, finding big first serves to get himself out of trouble. He did the same at 5-4 and finished off the match in some style with a forehand volley off the hip that floated agonisingly away from a stranded Murray.
Elsewhere, tenth seed Fernando Verdasco came through his second round match comfortably, beating Israel’s Dudi Sela 6-1, 6-2. Chile’s Fernando Verdasco also progressed to the third round with a win over qualifier Yen-Hsun Lu of Taipei. Popular Cypriot Marcus Baghdatis, who put out Roger Federer in Indian Wells, was another straight sets winner, beating Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina, 6-2, 6-4.