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Andy Murray: Former champion exits Dubai Championships at the hands of Jannik Sinner

Andy Murray will have to wait for his 700th career win after a straight-sets defeat against Italian Jannik Sinner at the Dubai Tennis Championships; world No 1 Novak Djokovic defeats Karen Khachanov to reach the quarter-finals

Andy Murray of Britain reacts after he lost a point agains Italy's Jannik Sinner during a match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Image: Andy Murray suffered a second-round defeat to Jannik Sinner in Dubai

Britain's Andy Murray suffered a comprehensive straight-sets defeat to fourth seed Jannik Sinner at the Dubai Championships on Wednesday.

Murray was unable to create a single break point chance throughout his second-round contest against one of the rising stars of the men's game and fell to a 7-5 6-2 loss.

"It is a special feeling [to share the court with Murray]," Sinner said in his on-court interview.

"He is a legend. Winning three Grand Slams, many, many tournaments and he has had some unfortunate moments with surgeries. His fighting spirit is incredible."

The Scot battled well in the first set which went efficiently to serve from both ends until Sinner struck, breaking 2017 Dubai winner Murray to love for 6-5.

Murray got to 30-30 in the 12th game, but a mighty Sinner first serve and a stunning forehand winner later and the set had slipped away.

Sinner, already ranked 10th in the world at the age of 20, broke again with ease at the start of the second and Murray had to save two break points just to get on the board.

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However, with Sinner coming forward aggressively and putting Murray away at every opportunity, the 34-year-old won just one more game on his way out after one hour and 43 minutes.

"There were some nerves," Sinner said. "I lost my last match against him. I tried to stay focused about my game and it worked. Thanks for the support as always. I think I played well, especially in the first set when it was tight in some moments."

Andy Murray of Great Brittain in action during his match against Alexander Bublik of Kazachstan at the 49th ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournement 2022 at Ahoy on February 9, 2022 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands (Photo by Henk Seppen/BSR Agency/Getty Images)
Image: The Scot will have to wait for his 700th career win, but promises he will reach that milestone

Murray blamed a lack of mental toughness for falling short of his latest milestone on this occasion.

He said in his post-match press conference: "Obviously it's something I want to achieve.

"Unless something went horribly wrong in the next six, eight months, I will get to that number. But, yeah, there's no excuse for some of the performances I've had recently in terms of how I've been playing.

"I need time on the practice court. I need consistency in terms of the things that I'm working on, consistent messages.

"Yeah, I mentally need to be a lot tougher than what I have been in some of my matches recently."

Djokovic lights up Dubai on his way to the quarter-finals

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates after he beats Russia's Karen Khachanov during a match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Image: Novak Djokovic received plenty of vocal support from a large crowd and he responded with some dazzling tennis under the lights

World No 1 Novak Djokovic impressed again at his first tournament since being deported ahead of the Australian Open, beating Russian Karen Khachanov 6-3 7-6 (7-2) to reach the quarter-finals.

"I was feeling excited and motivated," Djokovic said in his on-court interview. "But also at the same time I was feeling stressed. Particularly at the moments when I was facing break points. I thought the atmosphere in the stadium was terrific.

"I missed it [playing competitively]. This is my life. This is what I have known for the past 20 years. Tennis is my love. I enjoying bringing positive energy and memories for people who watch."

What's next for Murray?

Andy Murray of Great Britain reacts against Christopher O'Connell of Australia during day eight of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on February 21, 2022 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
Image: Murray will make finding a permanent coach his top priority

The three-time Grand Slam champion will make finding a coach his top priority ahead of the 'Sunshine Double' in Indian Wells and Miami where the world No 89 will be hoping to gain direct entry via a wild card.

After splitting with his long-term coach Jamie Delgado ahead of the 2022 season, Murray has also trialled German Jan De Witt, while also working with Colin Fleming and Stan Wawrinka's coach Dani Vallverdu in recent weeks.

Murray later confirmed he would announce a short-term coach to take him through to the grass season in the coming days.

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