Tennis

Andy Murray squanders lead, falls to Grigor Dimitrov in Miami Open

Andy Murray reacts after being defeated by Grigor Dimitrov in three sets at the Miami Open Monday, March 28, 2016, on Key Biscayne.
Andy Murray reacts after being defeated by Grigor Dimitrov in three sets at the Miami Open Monday, March 28, 2016, on Key Biscayne. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Andy Murray, the world’s No. 2 tennis player, lives just a short jaunt from the Crandon Park Tennis Center on Key Biscayne.

However, no matter how short that distance might be, the trip home on Monday to his Brickell apartment had to be a painful journey.

Murray, competing on what amounts to his home court at Crandon, unexpectedly fell 6-7 (1-7), 6-4, 6-3 to Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, ranked No. 28 in the world, in the third round of the Miami Open. Murray’s loss was just another piece of the decimation that has taken place to the men’s field in the tournament.

Only world No. 1 Novak Djokovic is alive and well – for now. The way things have been unfolding, Djokovic had better watch his step since he is the last of the top 5 in the world still swinging a racket this week.

Along with Murray’s loss Monday, world No. 3 Roger Federer dropped out with a stomach virus, world No. 4 Stan Wawrinka was ousted in the first round and Rafael Nadal, world No. 5, retired feeling ill during his first-round match.

At this year’s Miami Open, the high-ranked players are falling quicker and harder than at any other time in tournament history.

Explaining his loss, Murray praised Dimitrov. “Credit to him,” Murray said. “He was more solid than me.”

Was Murray, 28, in top shape physically?

“The conditions actually weren’t that bad,” he said. “It was just very, very humid.”

Dimitrov beat Murray with a steady, well-thought-out game plan while Murray seemed to be battling himself throughout the match. Murray seemingly could not manage to find a comfort range to his swing, alternately hitting the ball long followed by shots into the net.

“I made many more mistakes than usual, especially in the third set, so that was surprising for me,” Murray admitted.

Of a 3-1 lead he possessed in the third set, Murray said that he had put himself in “a winning position.”

Then he quickly added, “When you put yourself in winning positions you need to put your foot down. I got myself up 3-1 . . . and then the mistakes started creeping in.”

Dimitrov, 24, did not consider the victory over Murray historic or landmark. After all, his credentials include beating world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in 2013, a tidy $5,950,663 in career earnings, a 176-119 won-lost record, a ranking as high as No. 8 in the world in 2014 and a semifinal appearance at Wimbledon.

And that’s not to mention he once was dating Maria Sharapova.

Of beating Murray, Dimitrov simply said, “Anytime you beat a top player, you know you must have done something good. It’s a good win for me.”

Like Murray, Dimitrov thought one of the key points in the match was when Murray went up 3-1 in the third set. “I kept good composure,” Dimitrov said. “I knew I was going to get another chance. I was playing well at the key moments.”

With four of the top five out of the tournament, does Dimitrov envision an easier path forward.

Not necessarily.

“You still have to go through everyone,” Dimitrov said, “and everyone can play nowadays. You still have to beat the player, whoever you play.

“There’s still a lot of matches to be played.”

However, for the moment, Dimitrov summed up, “I’m not going to hide it. I’m happy.”

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