Andy Murray LOSES his grudge match against Alexander Zverev

, Andy Murray LOSES his grudge match against Alexander Zverev, The Today News USA

Two steps forward and one set back for Andy Murray, who on Tuesday night failed to make the breakthrough he desperately seeks against Alex Zverev.

A match with little love lost between the two players ended in a 6-4, 7-6 defeat for a bitterly disappointed 34-year-old Scot in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open.

It concluded a tournament which showed more encouraging signs for Murray in physical terms, although he lacked the consistency in this encounter to dislodge the world No 4. He angrily hurled his racket away as the match ended in a 7-4 tiebreak. 

, Andy Murray LOSES his grudge match against Alexander Zverev, The Today News USA

, Andy Murray LOSES his grudge match against Alexander Zverev, The Today News USA

Andy Murray was beaten 6-4, 7-6 in the third round at Indian Wells on Tuesday night

Murray was going in search of his first top five win since the end of 2016, and trying to stop a player who had won 18 of his previous 19 matches.

That is a sequence going back to his gold medal run at the Tokyo Olympics, and this was also a contest which featured the winners of the last three gold medals in the men’s singles events.

The 34-year-old Scot was seeking a more modest succession – the first time he has collected three straight wins on the main tour since gaining the title in Antwerp two years ago.

He made an excellent start, profiting from the German’s initial mistakes as he got used to the shadows spreading themselves across the court.

Murray, aware of his opponent’s occasional brittleness on serve, stood well in to receive his second delivery and it paid off with the early break.

, Andy Murray LOSES his grudge match against Alexander Zverev, The Today News USA

Few possess the natural power of Zverev, and almost equally quickly he was reversing the early 3-0 deficit. He broke in the next two return games, and pulled ahead for 4-3 when Murray pulled a forehand wide. 

, Andy Murray LOSES his grudge match against Alexander Zverev, The Today News USA

, Andy Murray LOSES his grudge match against Alexander Zverev, The Today News USA

Murray was hoping for a shock as he continues his comeback from hip surgery

Although the Scot’s blocked returns were excellent he was powerless to pull the set back, yapping his frustration at coach Jamie Delgado.

The second set again started in encouraging fashion, when Zverev dumped a second serve in the net to be broken for 3-1. He ceded the advantage straight back when, not for the first time this week, his backhand dropshot let him down with two failed attempts in the next game.

Some wild overheads and double faults suggested Murray is in Zverev’s head and he had the support of the crowd, but there were too many errors, particularly on the forehand side.

Zverev took advantage of a double fault to break for 6-5 but the continuing tragicomedy of his overheads let Murray back in. He trudged off court following the tiebreak, struggling to control his frustration.

Cam Norrie tonight plays American Tommy Paul for a place in the quarter finals.

Norrie’s latest victory came in on a desolate late evening in California when he broke down human brick wall Roberto Bautista Agut. A match which began in a howling desert wind ended with him beating the Spaniard 6-4, 5-7, 6-3.

, Andy Murray LOSES his grudge match against Alexander Zverev, The Today News USA

, Andy Murray LOSES his grudge match against Alexander Zverev, The Today News USA

Alex Zverev beat Murray for the first time, having lost their previous two encounters