Andy Murray suffers straight-sets defeat in first ATP appearance of season
Two-time Wimbledon champion Murray beaten in the final of a Challenger event in Italy two weeks ago, but suffers defeat on return to top tier of men's tennis for the first time since October
By PA Media
Last Updated: 24/02/21 11:37am
Andy Murray's first ATP Tour appearance of 2021 ended in defeat to world No 83 Egor Gerasimov at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier.
Britain's former world No 1, currently ranked 121st in the world, is still working his way back to form after undergoing hip surgery two years ago, went down 7-6 (10-8) 6-1.
Murray, who was unable to compete at the Australian Open after testing positive for Covid-19 in January, instead played at a lower-level Challenger tournament in Italy where he reached the final before heading to France following his withdrawal from a second Challenger event.
"I just tried to be focussed on the match and not think about mistakes," Gerasimov said in his on-court interview. "I just wanted to try my best today because I was playing with a great champion. It was a big experience and I'm happy."
The 33-year-old Scot may not get the court-time in his legs that he wanted this week, but he certainly got a workout in a first set lasting an hour and 10 minutes against Belarusian Gerasimov.
Murray fell behind to an early break of serve but hit back to level the set at 4-4.
A double-fault gifted Gerasimov a mini-break in the tie-break and although Murray saved three set points, his opponent converted a fourth with an ace.
The second set was, by contrast, a one-sided affair with Murray winning just two points on serve as Gerasimov raced into a 5-0 lead.
Murray saved a match point as he finally got on the board but it was just delaying the inevitable as Gerasimov sent the former world No 1 tumbling out at the first hurdle.
The Scot will move on to Rotterdam for next week's ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament after being given a wild card into the event that features Rafael Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Australian Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev.
Eighth seed Jan-Lennard Struff lost 6-3 6-4 to fellow German Peter Gojowczyk and the all-French clash saw wild card Benjamin Bonzi beat Lucas Pouille 7-6 (6) 6-2.
There were also wins for Dennis Novak, Jiri Vesely and Dutch qualifier Tallon Griekspoor.