Andy Murray crashed out of the Montreal Masters 1000 event in straight sets to the confident, forthright Kevin Anderson, losing 6-3, 6-1.
Despite winning the tournament last year, Murray showed all the signs of ring rust after over a month off following Wimbledon, and never found his stride.
Anderson, assigned the role of underdog, got his teeth into the match first. His intimidating 6 foot 8 frame worked to his advantage as he entered the fray with big serves and clinical net play. Murray looked flummoxed from the off and a double fault gave his South African opponent a 2-0 lead.
Anderson continued to stand further forwards and fire bombs at Murray, keeping the points short. His wingspan at the net was a huge advantage but Murray laboured hard at the back of the court. Numerous times it took Anderson more than one smash to put the Scot away.
Truth be told, Murray didn’t do too much wrong in the first set. Serving at 5-2 down, Murray calmly strode through the game to make Anderson serve – that’s not forgetting a brilliant skidding backhand down the line from a stretching Anderson. The 25-year-old year old served out in serene fashion and was a worthy victor with 16 winners in the first. Read more (255 words)
It was an even sorrier, if not wretched story for Murray in the second set. A swashbuckling return gave Anderson a break, before he held to go 2-0 up for a commanding lead.
However a rare double fault gave Murray two break points with the score at 2-1. Anderson, who played with heart and courage all match, was again refreshingly cavalier and rushed forwards before Murray dumped a return into the net to relinquish the game. Murray’s precious break points came as quickly as they went.
Serving at a measly 29% first serves in, Murray careered into a poor spell of form. Three weak errors from the Scot gifted Anderson a crucial second break and a 4-1 lead. Worse was to come with Murray serving to stay in it at 5-1 – his fifth double fault, a nonsensical forehand error and a thundering Anderson winner cemented victory for the unfancied South African.
Anderson’s huge build aided him here, even though he doesn’t have too many weapons - think John Isner or Ivo Karlovic. His serve was big, his court coverage was outstanding for such a large man, and he is indicative of how height is becoming so important in tennis.
Murray, 6 foot 3 himself, gave up five inches to his opponent and struggled all afternoon with the height and length of Anderson’s serve. The angles in particular from Anderson were devilish. After an intense summer training camp and a brief work-out here, Murray will lick his wounds before the Cincinnati Masters 1000 event next week.