Andy Murray squandered three match points against Australia’s Alex de Minaur before crashing out in the first round of the China Open in Beijing on Thursday.
Murray cut a frustrated figure throughout the match and earned a warning from the umpire after repeatedly hurling his racquet to the ground on his way to a 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 defeat.
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The former world number one lost his opening service game and handed the first set to the 24-year-old Australian with a limp forehand into the net.
The two-time Wimbledon champion found his groove in the second, easing a passing shot past a stranded De Minaur to gain a decisive break of serve and force a deciding set.
Murray broke again early but could not convert three match points before sending a forehand long to lose the tie-break 8-6.
The 36-year-old Scot has suffered multiple injuries in recent years and had career-saving surgery in 2019 that fitted him with a metal hip.
De Minaur’s win sees him enter rare company as he becomes only the fourth individual to defeat Murray five times in a row.
He joins Novak Djokovic (8), Roger Federer (5) and Rafael Nadal (5).
De Minaur will play either world number three Daniil Medvedev or American Tommy Paul in the second round.
The Aussie has been on a hot streak of late and while he hasn’t added to his seven single titles, he reached a career-high mark in the latest ATP rankings.
His recent run allowed him to jump six spots to No. 12 in the standings.
That is one spot higher than Kyrgios has managed so far in his career, with 13th being the Canberrans highest rank to date, achieved way back in 2016.
The China Open is being held for the first time since 2019 following the end of Beijing’s isolationist zero-Covid policy.
The men’s tournament has attracted a host of big names including seven of the world’s eight top-ranked players.
A notable omission is world number one Novak Djokovic who this month said without elaborating that he would not be competing in China this year.
The women’s event will get underway this week after its global governing body ended its boycott of China.
The WTA had halted its engagements in the country after Chinese player Peng Shuai made sexual assault allegations against a top government official.