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Andy Murray can still be the daddy on court

By Frank Brownlow

Published 01/04/2016

Sleepless nights: Andy Murray has been getting used to the pain of defeat since becoming a father
Sleepless nights: Andy Murray has been getting used to the pain of defeat since becoming a father

Fatherhood has doubtless brought much joy to Andy Murray - but it has also coincided with an alarming dip in form for the World number two.

Murray became a father for the first time when wife Kim Sears gave birth to little Sophia on February 7.

The 28-year-old returned to action earlier this month but made an early exit at Indian Wells.

And this week the crisis deepened when he lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the third round of the Miami Open, a tournament Murray has a very good record in having triumphed there twice in the past.

Murray led Bulgarian Dimitrov 3-1 in the deciding set before losing 6-7 (1-7) 6-4 6-3.

That means the two-time Grand Slam winner has failed to progress past the third round of any tournament since the birth.

The manner of the Miami departure grabbed the attention, with Murray repeatedly smashing his racket on the court in frustration, picking up a code violation from the umpire in the process.

Just a day earlier, Murray blew his top when mistakenly given a tennis ball from the women's tour to use during his second-round win over Denis Istomin.

Reports have emerged of Murray working on anger management, while there have also been rumours of a fall-out with coach Amelie Mauresmo.

He suffered a surprise loss to Federico Delbonis in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open, his first event since the birth of Sophia. Murray lost a third-set tie-break to bow out early to the world number 53.

Murray - whose elder brother Jamie has risen to number one in the world in doubles during his sibling's struggles - has admitted he finds it tough being away from his wife and child.

"I really don't want to miss seeing those changes (in Sophia)," he said.

"Even when I'm away for a day I feel bad. I feel I should be there and I want to be there as much as I can.

"So when I'm leaving the house at eight in the morning and getting back at eight at night, I feel bad."

Murray had vowed to jet home from the Australian Open in January if Kim (below) went into labour early.

"For me, my child is more important and my wife is more important to me than a tennis match," Murray said, before losing to world number one Novak Djokovic in the final.

After the defeat, Murray paid an emotional tribute to his other half, saying: "To my wife Kim, who's going to be watching back home - you've been a legend the past two weeks.

"Thanks for your support and I'll be on the next flight home."

Murray had said before the birth that he thought the inevitable lifestyle change would be a "good distraction".

He said: "It's actually not good to be just concentrating on tennis and training all the time.

"It is important to be able to take a step back from it and, when you finish on the practice court, be able to just go away and be with your friends and family, so I am looking forward to it.

"I want my daughter to be proud of her dad when she grows up and sees what I did.

"I hope it works out in a positive way on the court but if it doesn't, it's not the end of the world."

Murray now heads back to Europe to prepare for the clay-court season, before switching to grass and his bid for a second Wimbledon title, when he will attempt to be the daddy at SW19 which, given the circumstances, would surpass even his stunning 2013 triumph.

Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia beat Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky 7-5 6-3 in last night's Miami Open semi-final.

Belfast Telegraph

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