Former world No.1 Andy Murray, currently ranked 328, slipped to a three-set defeat to the world No, 240 in the last 16 of the Rafa Nadal Open in Manacor, Mallorca.
It was good but I need to get better physically.” Andy Murray
Murray, who is working his way back in singles following his hip surgery last January, had opted out of playing the US Open to gain match practice in the ATP Challenger, a second-tier tournament on the Tour’s calendar.
Murray, a three-time grand slam champion who was competing at that level for the first time since 2005, had cruised through his opening two matches until he met the Italian who beat him 3-6 6-4 7-6 (3) after two hours and 43-minutes.
He had looked on his way to securing a third comfortable victory when he pocketed the opening set with two breaks of the Viola serve, but he dropped the second despite twice fighting back from a break down.
In the decider the Briton once again recovered from an early break but seemed to suffer some physical problem which at first was feared was his new hip reacting badly. In fact the problem was in his other leg and at the change of ends, he could be seen pulling his foot back behind him in a quad stretch which might well have been a reaction to cramp.
The 32-year-old returned to the court and took a medical time-out with Viola leading 4-3, when he received a massage on both legs which again would indicate a cramping problem.
On his second resumption he looked to be tiring and eventually lost the match on the tie-break on Viola’s second match point giving the Italian the biggest win of his career.
“I feel unbelievably happy for all the practices every day and (for) trying to believe again in my game. So, I’m very happy for this win, for sure,” former world No. 118 Viola said during his on-court interview.
But despite the disappointing result, Murray leaves Mallorca knowing what has to do. “It was good but I need to get better physically.”