Andy Murray to fall down rankings after losing Alexander Zverev Indian Wells grudge match

Andy Murray says he's in the 'bad books' after losing ring

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ANGRY Andy Murray lost his grudge match of the Olympic champions with Alex Zverev to fall out of the top 170 in the world rankings.

The Scot led by a break in both sets and had the support of the Californian crowd and his chances in a fascinating third round match at the BNP Paribas Open.

But the powerful world No.4. stopped him gaining any telling momentum – and the Scot’s frustration could be clearly heard around the 16,100-seat Stadium 1.

He threw his racquet at his bag in fury when he was broken when leading 3-1 in the second set and later shouted: “It’s so bad, so bad”.

The German, who won the gold medal in Tokyo in August, finally beat his predecessor as Olympic champion for the first time 6-4 7-6 in two hours and seven minutes. And Murray threw his racquet to the court in frustration after putting a volley wide on match point.

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The world No.4 has now beaten all four members of the Big Four.

But Murray has still to win three matches at an ATP-level tournament since his last victory at the 2019 European Open – and the former world No.1 will now lose those rankings points to plummet down from world No.121.

His performances can also go up and down from world class to ordinary within games let alone matches but he matched one of the best players in the world for much of this match.

Despite the desert heat, the frosty relationship between the pair was clear at the pre-match coin toss and in the early exchanges.

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Murray had publicly called for an ATP domestic violence policy when allegations against Zverev from his ex-girlfriend were made last year and admitted they are “not the best of friends” before this match.

The Scot had beat the German in their two previous meetings, including in New York before the US Open last year with his metal hip when Zverev’s serve collapsed.

And the three-time Grand Slam winner started early mind games by standing three feet inside the baseline to return the Zverev second serve. The German sent down a second fault on the second point and caught the ball twice before one serve before he was broken.

Murray needed five games points before sending down an ace to end a 10-minute service game to go 3-0 before Zverev found his range to race to the next five games.

The world No.4 broke Murray twice as he used his power to move forward and win 12 out of 16 points at the net. And Zverev took his first set point after 48 minutes when the Scot dumped a drop shot into the net.

Murray had fought back from losing the first set against Carlos Alcaraz in the second round but Zverev is a class above the Spanish teenager.

He did break to lead 3-1 but dropped his serve after failing with two drops shot in the fifth game. As Zverev roared in celebration after his forehand winner, Murray furiously tossed his racquet as he returned to his chair.

At the break at 4-3, Zverev needed five minutes to change the laces in his tennis shoes – and Murray checked with the German before nipping off for a comfort break.

The Scot was broken for a fourth time when he sent down his fourth double fault but when Zverev served for the match he missed two overheads – putting one into the met from a yard and then sending the second long – but took the tiebreak 7-4 with his first match point when Murray put a volley wide.

Murray, who had a second hip surgery in January 2019, has not beaten a top-five player since seeing off Novak Djokovic at the Nitto ATP Finals in November 2016 to finish the year as world No.1.

Zverev said: “He was the only one of the Big Four I had not beaten so I am happy to do that. He played a fantastic match – maybe the best since his surgery. I hope he can continue like that because tennis has missed him and it is great to have him back. 

“I always stayed in the match even though I was a break down in both sets. The second set was an extremely high level from both of us. I am extremely happy it went my way.”

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