Andy Murray loses in three sets to Fabio Fognini at Shanghai Masters
Former world No 1 twice serves for the match but Italian battles through 7-6 2-6 7-6 in 3hrs 9mins
By Paul Prenderville
Last Updated: 08/10/19 8:37pm
Andy Murray has wanted matches against the best in the world - and on Tuesday he came up just short in his biggest test so far, losing to world No 12 Fabio Fognini in a second-round epic at the Shanghai Masters.
Less than 24 hours after beating Juan Ignacio Londero, Murray was back in action for a tough-looking test against the Italian, and so it proved in a titanic struggle that eventually proved just too much for the Scot.
After losing the first set, Murray had fought back to level the contest but with a statement win looking on the cards he faltered in the closing stages. Twice he served for the match, but a faltering first serve gave Fognini an opportunity that he did not turn down and he ran away with the tie-break against a visibly tiring Murray.
The contest featured an angry exchange of words at the changeover between the players, with Murray appearing to tell his opponent to 'shut up' following a flare-up that stemmed from Fognini's call of 'out' during a rally and saw Murray take it up with the umpire.
"I've never had that in a match and I've played 800-odd matches on the tour. Someone made a noise, I didn't know who made the noise, I looked in the direction of where the noise came from.
"Fabio wanted to engage with me, I probably shouldn't have done, but I am not having him talk to me like that on court," he said in his press conference.
"He [Fognini] then told me, 'Stop looking at me, what are you looking at me for?'
"I was like, 'I was just about to hit a shot and someone made a noise'. He told me to stop complaining, to have a sense of humour. I wanted to know where the sound came from and it came from him, which you're not allowed to do.
"It's against the rules, it's hindrance, you shouldn't do it. But he said I should have a sense of humour about that but in that moment neither of us were in a joking, laughing kind of mood.
"He [Fergus Murphy, umpire] wasn't saying anything to him. I was obviously frustrated with that. He wanted to engage with me, I probably shouldn't have done but I'm not having him talk to me like that on the court."
Fognini has been in terrific form this season, winning his maiden Masters in Monte Carlo and a win keeps him on course for a debut at the season-end ATP Finals, but Murray's stubborn streak has been growing as his game-time has increased and it was in evidence again.
Murray more than held his own in a competitive first set where the Italian 10th seed claimed the early advantage by winning the tie-break 7-4, but Murray dominated the second set and was back on level terms to force the gruelling contest to go the distance.
A topsy-turvy decider saw both players trading break points but it looked like Murray had seized the initiative to carve out the first real opening, but having served for the set at 5-4 he saw Fognini break back, only to do likewise himself.
Andy Murray's return....the story so far
|Shanghai Masters||Second Round||lost 6-7 6-2 6-7 v Fabio Fognini|
|China Open||Quarter-Final||lost 2-6 6-7 v Dominic Thiem|
|Zhuhai Championship||Last 16||lost 6-4 2-6 4-6 v Alex de Minaur|
|Rafa Nadal Open (Challenger)||Last 16||lost 6-3 4-6 6-7 v Matteo Viola|
|Winston-Salem Open||First Round||lost 6-7 5-7 v Tennys Sandgren|
|Western & Southern Open||First Round||lost 4-6 4-6 v Richard Gasquet|
Again, Murray had the chance to close out the contest but his first serve deserted him and Fognini pounced at every opportunity, breaking back again to level at 6-6 to set up a tie break where he came through 7-2.
"I'm very disappointed, there are a lot of things I need to get better at," Murray said.
"I will go away and work on those things and be in a better position when I next play against him. I served for the match twice and not won, I think that's the first time that's happened in my career."
Despite defeat, it has been a hugely successful three weeks in China for Murray. The three-time Grand Slam champion beat world No 13 Matteo Berrettini in Beijing last week as he put together back-to-back wins for the first time since his return at ATP level.
Murray has risen to world No 289 on the back of his form in Shanghai and his run to the third round means he will break back into the top 250 when the rankings are next updated.
There was also disappointment for British No 3 Cameron Norrie, who proved to be no match for world No 4 Daniil Medvedev, who ran out a comfortable 6-3 6-1 winner in just 54 minutes of the second-round clash.