Andy Murray bowed out of the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam after a straight-sets defeat to Marin Cilic last night.
Murray, the world number six, was broken on his very first service game and never really looked comfortable thereafter as Cilic eased to a 6-3, 6-4 win in 71 minutes.
The Scot’s disappointing night was summed up when leading 40-0 and on the brink of a crucial break-back in the second set, as he allowed Cilic back to deuce before the Croatian held for a vital 4-2 lead.
Wimbledon champion Murray was seeded second in Rotterdam but never lived up to that billing in an off-colour performance.
Behind from the start after he was broken immediately at the beginning of the first set, Murray could not find the form which saw him help Great Britain claim a historic win over the United States in the Davis Cup earlier this month.
There were signs that Murray, who only recently returned to action following a back injury, was off his game when he was taken to three sets by Austrian qualifier Dominic Thiem in the previous round. And against superior opposition in the shape of Cilic, he was duly punished.
Having lost the first set, Murray threw in a double fault which summed up the way he was playing.
And he let his frustration at his poor form get the better of him, angrily berating himself on court.
There was worse to come though as, having been broken to go 3-2 down, he forged a great chance to get back into the match.
He took Cilic to 0-30 on the Croatian’s serve, then was handed three break points when his opponent dumped what should have been an easy winner into the net.
Even then though Murray could not take advantage as Cilic stormed back to take the game, effectively ending Murray’s resistance as he wrapped up a 6-3, 6-4 win.
Elsewhere, Germany’s Angelique Kerber ended Petra Cetkovska’s impressive run at the Qatar Total Open with a straight-sets victory in yesterday’s quarter-finals. Number six seed Kerber is yet to drop a set this week and needed just 50 minutes to thrash Cetkovska 6-1, 6-0, the Czech qualifier unable to reproduce the form which saw her beat top seed Li Na on Thursday.
“I think I was playing well today,” Kerber said.
“Petra is a great player and yesterday she beat Li Na so I knew it would be tough.”
Kerber will face fifth seed Jelena Jankovic in the semi-finals after the Serbian knocked out former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-1, 6-3.
Jankovic stormed through the opening set in just 30 minutes and recovered from being an early break down in the second set to win five games in a row. “I’m pretty confident at the moment,” Jankovic said.
“I’ve been very focused this week and played very well so far. Against top players, like Petra, you have to be at the top of your game to have chance to win. I was just sticking to my game plan and luckily it worked. It’s nice to be back in the semi-finals here.”
The other semi-final will see Romania’s Simona Halep take on second seed Agnieszka Radwanska, Halep easily beating fourth seed Sara Errani 6-2, 6-0 in just 52 minutes and Radwanska equally untroubled in seeing off Yanina Wickmayer 6-2, 6-1.