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Murray crashes out at Queen's
Andy Murray surrendered his Aegon Championships title with a 7-6 (12/10) 6-2 defeat to veteran Czech battler Radek Stepanek at Queen's Club on Thursday.
Murray's first week under new coach Amelie Mauresmo ended three matches prematurely, the three-time Queen's champion unable to make the quarter-finals.
The 27-year-old Murray wasted eight set points as Stepanek closed out the first set, and the 35-year-old followed up with an impressive display in the second to clinch the match.
Murray was preparing for a new dawn under former Wimbledon and French Open champion Mauresmo, seeking more fun on court.
Instead the reigning Wimbledon champion relinquished his Queen's crown in severely lacklustre fashion.
Murray's run to the French Open semi-finals was meant to herald a return to full fitness and form but Stepanek had other ideas, grafting through what moments of pressure his opponent could apply - and seizing his chances with comparative ease.
The nature of the defeat more than the loss itself will leave Murray with much work ahead as he gears up to defend his Wimbledon title.
Murray provided the perfect opening, breaking Stepanek at the first time of asking - only to fail to hold his own serve in the following game.
The Scot saved a break point in the eighth game before finally closing out for 4-4 with his fifth game point.
Murray raced into a 6-2 tie-break lead, only for Stepanek to claw back each of those four set points.
The wily Czech saved four more - before clinically claiming the set with his first opportunity.
After a 75-minute first set, Stepanek powered home with little further trouble, consigning Murray to an extended period of contemplation and practice-court work ahead of SW19.