AEGON Championships: Reigning champion Andy Murray beaten by Radek Stepanek
Last Updated: 12/06/14 9:04pm
Andy Murray's 19-match grass-court winning run came to an end in the third round of the AEGON Championships after Czech Radek Stepanek produced a shock win.
The 35-year-old proved far sharper than the British No 1 and Wimbledon champion, coming through 7-6 (12-10) 6-2 to record just his second career win over Murray and reach the quarter-finals.
The world No 5, who was bidding for a fourth title at Queen's Club, was left to rue eight set points that went begging in the first set, while veteran Stepanek gobbled up his chances.
Murray was strangely off colour and any hopes of a revival fell flat early in the second set when the Scot surrendered the opening game with a forehand error and the wily Stepanek made sure he made the most of his chances.
Murray conceded he had no excuses after failing to take any of the eight set points he earned in the first set.
"I have only got myself to blame that I lost the first set. I don't know how many set points I had, but quite a lot of them were on my serve," he said.
It's more about how I get myself ready for Wimbledon now and how I use the next 10 days of preparation on the grass. Hopefully I can do a good job of that.
"On this surface especially you shouldn't really be losing sets like that. That's what's disappointing about the match.
"Then unfortunately I got broke in the first game of the second set and I couldn't quite get it back.
"I played well on the grass over the last few years, so I would have hoped to have done a bit better.
"But like I said, it's more about how I get myself ready for Wimbledon now and how I use the next 10 days of preparation on the grass. Hopefully I can do a good job of that."
Murray's tame exit at the hands of the unheralded world No 42 is a major blow to his preparations less than two weeks before the start of Wimbledon, where he will defend the title he won so memorably last year.
It was also the 27-year-old's first loss since his surprise decision to hire Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach last Sunday.
Since losing to Roger Federer in the 2012 Wimbledon final, Murray had been unstoppable on grass, but his winning run, which brought him Olympic gold, a first Wimbledon crown and a third Queen's title, came to a shattering halt in most unexpected style in the west London sunshine.
"When you play the best ones in the world, you have to come up with the best.... they bring the best out of you and it was a great win for me," Stepanek said courtside after setting up clash with South African Kevin Anderson, who defeated Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-4).