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I'm struggling to find my groove: Murray

 

By Eleanor Crooks

Andy Murray conceded he is "not playing good tennis" as his concerning run of form continued with another early exit from a tournament, this time in Rome.

The World No.1 and defending champion was ousted 6-2 6-4 by home favourite Fabio Fognini in his first outing in the Italian capital, less than a week after losing to Borna Coric in Madrid.

It was his seventh loss of a disappointing year, a stat he did not register in 2016 until August, and he looks a far cry from the player that won five successive tournaments at the end of last season to climb to the top of the rankings.

The Scot, who turned 30 on Monday, will now return home before linking up with coach Ivan Lendl next week ahead of the French Open, which starts later this month.

"I am just not playing well," Murray said. "I mean, the last couple of weeks, they have been tough and I haven't played well.

"I am just not playing good tennis and I need to try and work out how to turn that around."

In terms of the encounter with Fognini, this was a tough draw for Murray, coming up against an inspired opponent, who beat the Scot in the Davis Cup previously and also took a set off Rafael Nadal in Madrid last week.

"I am sure there were a lot of things I could have done better," the Scot added. "Obviously he started the match extremely well and then in the mid-to-end part of the second set, there were a few opportunities there.

"But he was taking the ball early, hitting the ball close to the lines and dominating most of the points.

"Normally during matches your opponent might give you a few opportunities with some errors, and obviously you hope to create a few yourself. That certainly wasn't the case.

"The only chance I really got was when he was making errors."

British No.2 Kyle Edmund followed Murray out of the Rome tournament after a straight-sets defeat against Juan Martin Del Potro yesterday.

√ Maria Sharapova has broken her silence after being denied a wildcard to this month's French Open, insisting "no words, games, or actions will ever stop me from reaching my own dreams".

Sharapova was widely expected to be fast-tracked into the second Grand Slam of the season, which she has won twice, but the French Tennis Federation (FFT) took the unexpected decision on Tuesday to refuse her entry.

A wildcard invitation was her only hope of featuring at Roland Garros given she does not have enough ranking points to go straight into the main draw in Paris, nor the qualifying event.

"If this is what it takes to rise up again, then I am in it all the way, everyday," Sharapova said.

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