Going soft: still struggling to come to terms with fatherhood, Andy Murray heads for exit at Miami Open
Third-round exits from two elite ATP events since becoming a father have Britain’s Andy Murray searching for answers as the world number two approaches the start of the clay-court season.
The 28-year-old Scotsman lost a 6-7 (1-7), 6-4, 6-3 shocker to 28th-ranked Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov on Monday at the Miami Open after having been sent packing at Indian Wells by Argentina’s 48th-ranked Frederico Delbonis.
“I was up a break in the third, same thing in Indian Wells as well,” Murray said. “Then lost a run of games in both matches. So need to look at that and see where I go from there.”
Joining the Scot in the rush for the exity was top-ranked woman Serena Williams, the three-time defending Miami Open champion, who was upset 6-7, 6-1, 6-2 by 15th-ranked Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Murray, who fell to 0-5 in Australian Open finals with a loss to Novak Djokovic in January, became a father on February 7 when his wife Kim gave birth to daughter Sophia and took a break until Indian Wells.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Murray said. “I expected Indian Wells to be tricky. But here I had a long time to prepare, practised pretty well.
“Indian Wells, understandable. Here, not so much.”
Murray said becoming a father has given him a more relaxed perspective on tennis, but has not changed the amount of work he does.
“Win or lose, it’s not irrelevent to me but it’s not as important as it was before,” he said. “It’s not as stressful.”
Four of the top five men’s seeds and six of the top 10 at Miami are gone before the last 16, matching 2005’s tournament record.
“It hasn’t happened often,” Murray said of such seeded attrition. I’m not sure exactly why that is.“
But Murray is not ready to proclaim this the year for a change of the guard dumping himself, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
“I hope it’s not for my sake,” Murray said. “I need a little more evidence than one or two weeks to support that.”
But he does have respect for rising young talent and their potential for grand slam success.
“The group of guys coming up behind are really, really good players,” Murray said. “It depends a little bit on how they develop, too. A lot of them are huge guys, big guys with big games and move well.”
Murray, the 2012 US Open and 2013 Wimbledon champion, made the French Open semi-finals the past two years and is expected to be in the hunt again this year at Roland Garros.
But Murray knows he cannot make 55 unforced errors as he did against Dimitrov.
“Grigor is a very good player but I had opportunities,” Murray said. “It’s not like I came out and played awful stuff the whole time. When you get your chances you have to put your foot down.”