Sunday 4 December 2016

Pained Murray struggles to see bright side of doubles exit

Simon Briggs

Published 09/08/2016 | 02:30

'The world No 1 looked positively hag-ridden as he left Centre Court after losing to Juan Martin' Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty
'The world No 1 looked positively hag-ridden as he left Centre Court after losing to Juan Martin' Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty

Andy Murray had a day off yesterday to prepare for this afternoon's second-round meeting with Argentina's Juan Monaco. The rest was much needed, not so much to repair his body as to stop his mind from spinning.

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As he came off the court at around 10.40pm local time on Sunday night, Murray wore a classic 1,000-yard stare. One might have been tempted to quote Boris Becker's line from the 1987 Wimbledon: "Nobody died, I just lost a tennis match."

But he would not have appreciated the thought. He and brother Jamie had just bombed out of the Olympic men's doubles event in the first round, as they did in London.

And the pain was all the greater because of the family responsibility the siblings feel towards each other.

Read more: Murray brothers and Williams sisters suffer shock defeats in Rio as doubles dreams end

The irony is that Murray's chances of claiming gold in Rio had, if anything, improved over the previous 10 minutes or so.

While he and Jamie were clearly devastated by their 7-6, 7-6 defeat at the hands of well-supported Brazilian pairing Thomaz Bellucci and Andre Sa, their grief was outstripped by that of Novak Djokovic.

Hag-ridden

The world No 1 looked positively hag-ridden as he left Centre Court after losing to Juan Martin del Potro by the same scoreline, sobbing openly.

It was a night of shocks at the Olympic Tennis Arena. By around 7.30pm, nothing of any great significance had happened, except that Andy Murray and Johanna Konta had made it four first-round wins out of four for the British singles contingent.

But then the Williams sisters suffered the first defeat of their careers in an Olympic doubles tournament.

Next up were Frenchmen Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert. The top doubles seeds lost to Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal, of Colombia.

This presented an opportunity to the Murrays, the next-highest seeds, but Sa and Bellucci played some inspired tennis. And then the guillotine fell on Djokovic.

To improve Andy Murray's prospects further, Roger Federer is absent through injury. And while Rafael Nadal made a fine start on Sunday, dropping only three games in his first competitive match since May, he also admitted that his damaged left wrist had not fully healed.

Nevertheless, Murray's mood was clearly at a low ebb on Sunday night. "It was a tough day," he said. "The way that match ended, it was very hard to take."

"I will concentrate on the singles now." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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