Top seed Andy Murray and four time champion Andy Roddick were dispatched off in the second round of the AEGON Championship on Wednesday in London.
Reigning champion Murray struggled against a stubborn Nicolas Mahut of France, eventually falling short 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-6.
Murray was quoted as saying by the ATP: “It was a very close match ... losing serve at the beginning of the third set after breaking him was probably not great.”
Mahut, the former finalist of 2008, seems to perform better on the grass surface, statistics show. In terms of records, Mahut has a solid 29-23 career record on the natural surface, in contrast to a 45-69 on hard court and 8-21 on clay. He started finely, breaking his British opponent twice before wrapping up the first set with ease. However, the second was a different scenario, with both men securing their service games only for Murray to pull through in the tie break. The number one seed, claiming that his controversial back problem is healed, conceded defeat in the final set when Mahut won the first six points of the tie break and ultimately triumphing.
“I was hitting the ball fine today. It wasn’t like I was shanking balls and mishitting. I just need to spend more time on the grass,” said Mahut who faces Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov on Thursday, coming off a well-earned victory over Gilles Muller 7-6(1), 6-4.
Despite firing 22 aces, American Roddick couldn’t escape the same feat as Murray, falling in a losing effort to World No. 67 Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.
“I thought I had a look there in the third set, and honestly I felt like I was going to take that thing once I turned it. Didn’t work out that way,” Roddick said.
Roger-Vasselin will encounter Argentine David Nalbandian the tenth seed also on Thursday.
(Additional writing by Matthew Bolton)