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Encouraging signs but Murray knocked out by rising star Rublev

 

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Andy Murray

Andy Murray

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Andy Murray

Andy Murray bowed out of the AMRO World Tennis Tournament in straight sets to Russian World No.8 Andrey Rublev.

Great Britain's three-time Grand Slam winner was looking for only his second win over a top-10 player since returning from the career-saving hip surgery he underwent two years ago.

There were certainly encouraging signs for Murray, who came through the physical test against the big-hitting fourth seed. But the shot-making on the big points which propelled him to the very top of the sport has yet to fully return as he slipped to a 7-5 6-2 defeat in Rotterdam.

Murray's first serve was at least carrying significantly more venom than in Monday's three-set win over Robin Haase in the first round.

The Scot was also comfortable engaging Rublev in long, punishing rallies early on, waiting for the 23-year-old to make the first error. But the familiar chuntering surfaced towards the end of the first set, Murray at one point exclaiming, "I'm totally unprepared for this", although two aces on his way to a hold for 5-4 suggested otherwise.

However, a pair of double-faults gave Rublev the break for 6-5 and a frustrated Murray smashed his racket into the ground.

He failed to capitalise on two break points as the first set slipped away in just over an hour.

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Rublev, a renowned frontrunner, broke for 3-2 in the second and wrapped up victory with five games in a row.

Meanwhile, the ATP have announced that prize money will be increased at lower-ranked tournaments as part of a financial support package amid the coronavirus pandemic.

ATP 250 and ATP 500 events will see winnings rise from 50% of pre-Covid totals to 80% and 60% respectively up until Wimbledon, thanks to top players agreeing to share the wealth.

The extra $5.2m (£3.72m) will come from money that ordinarily goes to the top 12 players at the end of the season, with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer among those giving their support via the ATP Player Council.

The governing body's support package also includes the introduction of a Covid-19 protected ranking - to be used if a player is not active on the Tour for more than four weeks.


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