Andy Murray throws racket tantrum as he loses to Grigor Dimitrov in Miami
Andy Murray was knocked out of the Miami Open by Grigor Dimitrov despite winning the first set and holding a 3-1 lead in the third
Andy Murray vented his frustration by violently smashing his racket against his bag eight times during his defeat by Grigor Dimitrov at the Miami Open on Monday after letting slip a 3-1 lead in the third set and having won the first set.
The 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 defeat leaves the British No1, who also went out of the Indian Wells Masters in the third round, with only two wins on the ATP World Tour since reaching the Australian Open final in January.
Despite playing at his training base in Florida, where he won the title in 2009 and 2013, Murray was dominated by the Bulgarian, who controlled the match from the baseline. It was after Dimitrov had won the second set that Murray could contain his temper no longer and his racket tantrum earned a violation from the umpire.
Murray had started well enough and, although he wasted three break points in the opening game, he edged ahead in the third game. But Dimitrov broke back and the match went with serve until a tie-break which Murray took with ease.
It was the prelude to an error-strewn second set from Murray. He won only two points in the opening four games as Dimitrov raced into a 4-0 lead. The Scot pulled back to 4-3 and then had a break point to level at 5-5 but Dimitrov held on for the set and watched Murray lose his cool.
However, the display of anger spurred Murray and he took advantage of Dimitrov errors to built a 3-1 lead. But the Bulgarian broke back and Murray, who appeared to be struggling physically, cut a disconsolate figure in the latter stages of the match as Dimitrov won the final five games in succession to take the deciding set 6-4.
Murray will now head back to Europe to prepare for the clay-court season and the Monte Carlo Masters in April.
The British No1, Johanna Konta, made light work of Monica Niculescu to reach the quarter-finals but Heather Watson was knocked out by the world No5, Simona Halep.
Konta, the 24th seed who had beaten the Russian qualifier Elena Vesnina on Sunday, was swiftly into her stride to establish a 4-0 lead, going on to take the first set 6-2. She broke Niculescu in the first game of the second set and raced to a 5-0 lead but her opponent briefly rallied to take the next two games before Konta completed her victory.
Watson had also made a fine start, breaking Halep in her first two service games to lead 3-1. But the Romanian responded by taking the next five games to take the first set 6-3.
In the second set Watson, ranked 69th in the world, was broken in the fifth game but recovered it only to concede her serve again, Halep eventually running out the winner with a love service game.
Afterwards Watson admitted she had struggled with a leg injury. She said: I felt fine going into this match but then I tweaked it again as I became overly aggressive going for stuff you shouldnt usually go for playing against Halep. I ended up paying the price, missed a few too many and was pretty inconsistent.