Andy Murray out of Madrid Open after defeat to Borna Coric
World number one Andy Murray's struggle to rediscover his form continued on Friday with another straight-sets defeat to Borna Coric at the Mutua Madrid Open.
The Croatian claimed his scalp in February at the Dubai Championships, winning 6-1 6-3 as Murray made 55 unforced errors and failed to even earn a single break point.
This match was almost as embarrassingly one-sided at 6-3 6-3, and it is another loss which will hurt Murray, who now heads to Rome where he is defending champion.
Murray's form is stark contrast to at this point last year when, then the perennial number two in the rankings behind Novak Djokovic, he embarked on a phenomenal seven-month run to propel himself to the top of the rankings pile.
He could now have to repeat something like that eye-watering effort to stay there but it is clear he is still finding his way after his elbow injury.
Cutting out the unforced errors will help. The signs were there early on in the match, particularly on the forehand side, that perhaps Coric could cause Murray some problems and he drew first blood with a break of serve to lead 2-3 in the opening set.
However, a couple of forehand mistakes from Coric allowed Murray to break straight back only for the two-time Madrid winner to then lose his serve once more to fall 3-4 behind.
Coric comfortably held his serve and forced Murray to serve to stay in the set, but he could not, instead slipping to 0-40 on his serve. Murray made it back to 30-40 and an incorrect call from a line judge gave him another opportunity but Coric broke again to take a scrappy opening set.
Murray was in trouble during his first service game of the second set after two more unforced errors helped earn Coric another break point for a 2-0 lead. Murray managed to peg him back before a timely ace rescued the game.
Murray had two break points of his own in the next game but he could not take them and he was becoming increasingly irked at how the match was panning out as it reached a crucial stage at 4-3 to Coric.
His frustration boiled over in the eighth game of the second set as he lashed a backhand well wide to go 0-40 down on his own serve. Coric then came out on top in a long rally to break Murray and give himself the opportunity to serve for the match.
The world number 59 saw it out, gifted two match points by another mistake from Murray, winning it with a drop shot which Murray could only lift over the net and wide.
Belfast Telegraph Digital