Andy Murray launched a mid-match rant after he was accidentally given a ball from the women’s matches before beating Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin in straight sets in the second round of the Miami Open.
Murray has had to wait most of the first week to begin his campaign in Key Biscayne after a first-round bye, and it perhaps showed in an up-and-down performance before the Scot eventually came through 6-3 7-5 in an hour and 38 minutes.
But Murray was serving in the fifth game of the second set when he was given a lighter ball being used for the women’s tournament and he was not impressed, with his comments being picked up by court-side microphones and broadcast on Sky Sports 3.
Murray was heard to say: “That’s one of the women’s balls and I could have hit a shot with it.”
After dropping his serve for the first time in the match to go 3-2 behind in the set Murray continued his rant at the change of ends when he exchanged words with umpire Mohamed Lahyani.
He said: “For me that’s not good enough, it’s unacceptable. Unacceptable to have one of those balls in there.”
Despite the setback Murray went on to win the match and reach the third round.
Before his spat Murray started the match well, breaking serve in the opening game.
But any thoughts of simply brushing his opponent aside were shelved as Istomin battled to hold his next service game and tested Murray with an audacious array of shots before the Scot came through to lead 3-1.
Murray stepped up a gear in the remainder of the first set, though, accelerating through to take it 6-3.
Istomin broke serve for the first time in a pulsating fifth game of the second set. A superb forehand winner down the line from Murray was all but forgotten as an overhit drop shot allowed Istomin to set up break point with a neat cross-court clip.
Murray saved that with a huge serve but could not kill the game off and was eventually broken after the ball mix-up and his exchange of words with Lahyani. He immediately broke back, though, and got away with an indifferent service game at 5-5 to leave Istomin serving to stay in the match.
And the world No 76 was unable to achieve that, Murray forcing a match-point advantage which went his way when Istomin sent a forehand into the top of the net.
Reflecting on his performance, Murray told atpworldtour.com: “I was hitting the ball cleanly. It’s just the shot selection tonight could have been better, I think.”
Bulgarian 26th seed Grigor Dimitrov will be Murray’s next opponent, and the Scot said: “He is obviously a top-quality player. He had a good win today, a tough win, against [Federico] Delbonis.
“We played here once before; I managed to win that one. I played a bunch of tough matches against him.
“I think the last one was in Cincinnati where he had a match point. He had a bunch of chances to win that one and I managed to turn it around.
“I know I’ll need to play good tennis and be a little bit more disciplined than I was tonight.”