Andy Murray has targeted Indian Wells and Miami as two events where he can maximise his ranking points and put more water at the top of the listings between himself and his main rival Novak Djokovic.
To beat the number one player in the world is just incredible. It’s the biggest win of my career
So his loss, in his opening match at Indian Wells, will prove a major setback to his plans with the Serb, the defending champion, still on course to protect his 1000 Master points.
In what can only be described as a major upset, he was beaten 6-4 7-6(4) to the Canadian qualifier, Vasek Pospisil, ranked 129 places below him.
For the Canadian 26-year-old, it was the biggest win of his career who spun and flung his racket after striking his forehand winner on his fourth match point.
"It’s an amazing feeling," Pospisil acknowledged later. "I had a tough year last year for many, many different reasons but feel the last couple months I have really found my hunger and my motivation to be back on the court training hard again.
"I felt like a big result was coming over the last couple of weeks and months because I believe in my abilities. But I had to put the pieces together again and to beat the number one player in the world is just incredible. It’s the biggest win of my career."
Murray, who had a bye in the first round, was the clear favourite. He broke Pospisil twice in the opening set but wasnÈt able to press home his advantage with some weak serving, especially with his second delivery.
Pospisil broke again to open the second holding for 2-0 and had two break points to go up 3-0 after the world number one double-faulted for the sixth time. Murray held on and then leveled, steadying his game to hang o for the tiebreak where another double fault handed Pospisil a 3-1 lead which he stretched to 6-2 where nerves no doubt affected his play but he finally struck that winner at his fourth attempt.
"Disappointing," Murray said. "I had opportunities in the first set when I was up. I was there up 3-1 and 4-2, so I would have liked to have done better there. I didn’t serve well enough tonight.
"He definitely started to play better in the second set. He was aggressive and came to the net, playing some great reflex volleys at important moments. Overall, I thought he deserved to win."
"Some years I’ve played well. Some years it just hasn’t quite happened for me," Murray commented later as his bad run of results in the Californian desert continued.
"I don’t know exactly why that is. I don’t know if it’s the conditions. I really don’t know why I haven’t played my best here over the years."
But Murray wasnÈt the only seed to fall as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (7) was knocked out by Fabio Fognini, 7-6(4) 3-6 6-4 after two-hours and 30-minutes of play in the blazing sun.
Also out are Ivo Karlovic (19) and Feliciano Lopez (20).
Earlier in the womenÈs draw, Angelique Kerber swept past fellow German Andrea Petkovic 6-2 6-1, Venus Williams beat Jelena Jankovic 1-6 7-6(5) 6-1 and Agnieszka Radwanska beat ousted Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-3 6-4.
But joining the exodus of seeds is Sam Stosur, who lost to Julia Goerges 4-6 6-4 6-4.