x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Slow starts are catching up on Andy Murray

The Scot appears to be at his most vulnerable in the early stages of tournaments.

Murray lost to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the first round at Indian Wells on Saturday. Danny Moloshok / Reuters
Murray lost to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the first round at Indian Wells on Saturday. Danny Moloshok / Reuters

The way Andy Murray started against Michael Berrer, an opponent ranked No 116 in the world, in Dubai, it would have been hard to imagine the Scot would reach the final of the Dubai Duty Free Championship and outplay the unbeaten world No 1 Novak Djokovic along the way.

Murray was down 4-3 in the final set, but won three games on the trot to survive. At Indian Wells on Saturday, he failed to survive his first battle and crashed out in a 6-4, 6-2 loss to the world No 92 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

The Scot has struggled in all his opening matches at tournaments this year and is earning the reputation of being a slow starter.

In Brisbane, where he won the title, he was stretched to three sets by Mikhail Kukushkin, the world No 91. He lost the opening set in his first-round match at the Australian Open against Ryan Harrison, the world No 77.

In 2011, Murray lost his opening match at five of his 18 tournaments; in Rotterdam, Indian Wells, Miami, Montreal and the ATP World Tour finals.

In 2010, he lost his first matches at Miami and Monte Carlo, and could not win his second at Dubai, Rome, Queen's Club and Valencia.

"I'm going to have to go away and figure out what happened," Murray said.

His problem seem obvious: it's the lethargic nature of his starts and Ivan Lendl, his coach, will have plenty of work to do on his mental approach.

That, after all, has been the difference for Djokovic.