Mouthy Murray caught up in desert storm


Last updated at 18:13 08 March 2008

Andy Murray's hopes of a third ATP title this year ended on Thursday in a welter of self-recrimination and expletives when he was knocked out of the Barclays Dubai Open by Nikolay Davydenko.

A desert run that began with the dismissal of Roger Federer on Monday ended at the quarter-final stage after he was defeated 7-5, 6-4 by the tenacious Russian.

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Mind your language: Murray lets rip as he shows his frustration

With the world No 5 in his most dourly determined form, Murray struggled to cope with his frustrations and was lucky to escape unpunished for several four-letter outbursts he directed at himself.

Swedish umpire Mohamed

Layhani seemed on the verge of giving an official warning in the middle of the second set when the Scot unleashed his colourful vocabulary as the Russian fought back.

There was an absence of the total cool shown against Federer and as Davydenko pointed out: 'If you are crazy you can lose your match, if you are totally concentrated you can win every game.'

Murray can now enjoy a brief stopover at home before heading out to another place in the desert, Indian Wells in California, for the first elite Masters Series event of the season.

After that comes another

Masters, the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, and as he reached the semi-finals in both last year it is an important period for his ranking.

The British No 1 was not unhappy with his few days' work although, despite their rankings, he would have been marginal favourite for Thursday's match, given that he had beaten

Davydenko in their previous three meetings.

Murray said: 'It has still been a good week, not terrible at all. I beat the world No 1 and got into the outdoor season. The ball flies here the same as it does at Indian Wells, so this is good preparation for a month in America.'

Still ruing the missed break point he had in the second game of the match, Murray added: 'I think that was the key game. If I had got ahead and won the first set it could have been a different story. Maybe I got tired in the second set, I didn't

take my chances.


A stretch too far: Murray couldn't reach the semi-finals

'I tried to change the pace a lot because he can really make you run when he gets into a rhythm on the baseline. I didn't get enough cheap points on my serve.'

His delivery was certainly not as potent as it had been against

Federer, whose plaintive post-match comments have inadvertently sparked a debate about Murray's unusual tendency to play from way behind the baseline.

Having lost the first set, the

20-year-old Scot decided to step in a bit and looked much better for it as he went into a 3-0 lead. It was as much his own excellence that dragged Davydenko back after that, rather than the tactic letting Murray down.

Murray does look a better player when attacking more but his world ranking of 11, after missing half of last season, gives a strong answer to the likes of Federer that his trusted methods are hardly letting him down.

The question is whether his clever counter-punching and superb mobility around the court will be enough to consistently unpick the very best players.

Davydenko's forehand was in terrific nick and it helped him gain the decisive break for 6-5 in the first set, although he needed to save a break point when serving out for the set.

When Murray developed his 3-0 lead in the second, there was no warning whatsoever that he would go on to concede the next five games.

The Scot put a forehand long to lose his serve at 3-1 and let out a foul-mouthed cry audible to the crowd and television viewers but not, it seemed, to the umpire or courtside ATP supervisor Ed Hardisty.

It was not a collapse as each point was contested with great intensity, but it seemed that the force was with Davydenko throughout.

He is still maintaining that there was nothing suspect on his part about the betting patterns

surrounding his match in Poland last year that are still being investigated.

Davydenko said: 'I haven't heard anything from the Tour recently. I've been fine this year, I'm not feeling any pressure.

'Maybe it will all end by the end of this year, or maybe when I'm out of tennis.'

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