MONTE CARLO: Andy Murray surrendered a 4-0 lead in the decisive third set on his way to defeat at the Monte Carlo Masters on Thursday as the world number one’s 2017 season hit another setback.
Murray suffered a shock third-round loss to Spain’s 15th seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 in more than two and a half hours.
Former French Open champion Stan Wawrinka was also routed, with the Swiss third seed losing to Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-4, 6-4.
Ramos-Vinolas toppled Scottish top seed Murray on his second match point to progress to the quarter-finals on the Monaco clay for the first time at the French Open warm-up event.
“I’m disappointed to lose from the position that I was in.
“I mean, if you sort of look at the scoreline, it was 7-5 in the third. One week ago I would have been okay with that. But sitting here, being 4-Love up in the third, I haven’t lost many matches like that in my career,” said Murray.
“I’m disappointed. I feel like I had enough chances to win. I was close, I think. At 5-4, I had a chance in that game, as well.
“Maybe tomorrow or a day after I’ll be able to look back a little bit and think where I’m at now from where I was a week ago.
“My elbow felt pretty good. I served much better today than I did yesterday. That’s only going to get better. So hopefully I keep going in the right direction.”
Murray, a three-time Monte Carlo semi-finalist, raced away with the first set, before Ramos-Vinolas found his feet to level the score, then neutralised a 4-0 Murray lead in the third set.
Ramos-Vinolas then edged ahead, with Murray saving a match point in the final game but the reigning Wimbledon and Olympic champion missed on a drop shot to hand a shock win to his opponent.
Murray had returned from a month out with an elbow injury to launch his clay court season with a gruelling 7-5, 7-5 defeat of Gilles Muller in Wednesday’s second round tie.
The 29-year-old was making his first ATP appearance since a second-round loss to Vasek Pospisil at Indian Wells on March 12.
His quest for a first Monte Carlo title goes on, one of only two Masters 1000 events he has never won.
Victory for Vinolas-Ramos marked the first time the 29-year-old from Barcelona, who reached last year’s French Open quarter-finals, had got the better of a world number one.
His reward is a Friday quarter-final against Croatian fifth seed Marin Cilic, who motored past number nine seed Tomas Berdych 6-2, 7-6 (7/0).