- Andy Murray smashed his racket in frustration after defeat at Paris Masters
- The Scot he failed to close out a lead of 5-2 in the third set on Monday
- It was the fourth time he had been beaten by Alex de Minaur this year
Andy Murray suffered one of the most agonising defeats of a difficult season when he threw away a golden chance to beat his bogeyman of 2023, and was booed by the Bercy crowd as he smashed his racket in anger.
For the fourth time this year he went down to Australian No 1 Alex de Minaur, and this meeting at the Paris Masters became the second consecutive match against him when he failed to close out a lead of 5-2 in the third set.
Murray could barely contain his frustration as he let a match point slip at 5-4 and went down 7-6, 4-6, 7-5 to de Minaur, who inflicted a very similar scoreline on him earlier this month in Shanghai.
The Scot looked in complete command in the decider but his opponent then tightened up his game and gave little away. Faced with the challenge of converting under pressure, the double Wimbledon champion lost the last five games and at the end repeatedly smashed his implement after walking back to his chair.
It has been a strange year for Murray, which has somewhat petered out after promising plenty.
Andy Murray smashed his racket in frustration after losing to Alex de Minaur at Paris Masters
The Scot was beaten by Australian No 1 Alex de Minaur for the fourth time this year
Since reaching the final of the ATP event in Doha back in February he has now gone 9-14 in matches on the main tour.
There have, however, been three titles at Challenger level, one of them coming on clay and two on grass.
This time Murray went immediately behind in the first game when he double faulted, but from 2-4 down generally looked the better player in a 66-minute first set.
His three set points came at 5-4 against serve, although he was only given a chance in one of them. Having been more composed than in recent tournaments he struggled to keep a lid on his frustrations after that, although he was rarely as demonstrative as he was recently in Asia.
In the tiebreak he was serving at 5-6, only to shunt a forehand into the net. Time and again he missed forehands on important and points and his first serve deserted him during the tiebreak. At the changeover he embarked on a lengthy rant at his support corner, which included Davis Cup Captain Leon Smith.
He is here to assess Murray and his double options after the news of Dan Evans’s injury, ahead of the Davis Cup finals week which will see GB play the quarter final against Serbia on November 23.
Smith will have been pleased with the way Murray played more aggressively and came back in the second set, in which he inflicted damage on the de Minaur serve with his returns while serving only 42% of his own first deliveries. After breaking for 5-4 he comfortably closed it out to set up a decider.
Enjoying his best spell, he reeled off the first eight points of the third to go 2-0 up and gave himself the buffer of a double break against an opponent who, unusually, was starting to look weary and ragged. That abruptly changed at 5-2, and once again we saw that Murray, once such a brilliant closer of matches, is increasingly struggle to get over the finish line.
De Minaur turned the set around to close out another hard-earned victory on Monday