Andy Murray has admitted that a lack of coaching is one of the key areas that is leading to his struggles at the moment.
The British no.1 succumbed to the lowly Santiago Giraldo yesterday in round three of the Madrid Open. It wasn't even close as a contest either, as the world no.47 breezed to a 6-3 6-2 win.
This tournament marked a return to the court for Murray, he has not featured since another sound defeat to Fabio Fognini in a crucial Davis Cup rubber - which led to Great Britain's exit in the quarter-finals.
The 26-year-old took a break following the Davis Cup to firm-up his search for a new coach, with the target on replacing Ivan Lendl by the French Open.
A successor is yet to be put in place and Murray believes the situation isn't helping.
“Yeah, my coach is missing," he said following Giraldo's win, when asked what was missing in his game.
"That’s quite a big part of my team. I’ll take the next couple of days to think about the coaching situation. I want to try to get someone in soon.”
Many names have been mentioned in the hunt for a new coach.
Seven-time Grand Slam winner John McEnroe put his name in the hat, as Murray insisted there were seven or eight names on his list.
Also linked with the vacant position is Larry Stefanki. The American coached McEnroe himself and has also worked with the likes of Tim Henman, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Andy Roddick until his retirement in 2012.
Jonas Bjorkman and Bob Brett are some of the others that are more consistently mentioned with regards to a new coach, after it seemed that Henman and Darren Cahill - two of Murray's priority targets - ruled themselves out of contention.
Murray has been coach-less since splitting with Lendl in March. The Czechoslovakian helped the Scottish-born star to his first two Grand Slam wins after final defeats on four other occasions.
In winning last year's Wimbledon, Murray became the first British man to win at SW19 in over 70 years.
Success has been few and far between since then though, and his world ranking has taken a hit. Back surgery at the end of 2013 cut short his preparations for this season and his recent performances demonstrate a lack of consistency.
"It's tough because some days just now I'm playing well and then the next day I'm not playing well at all," he continued after his Madrid exit.
"Even within matches I'm playing really well for periods and then other times not great at all.
"I need to become more consistent, my base level has to stay the same for a lot longer and that isn't necessarily going out there and practicing loads of stuff on the court, that is something where I need to be mentally stronger and a bit more switched on for longer periods in matches."
"The problem for me over the last few years has been the tournaments outside the slams I just haven't had that consistency at all for whatever reason and then when I've got to the slams I have played well pretty much all of the time.
"I don't know if it is a question of confidence or not. I don't feel like I'm low on confidence, which I have had at periods before in my career especially after losing in big tournaments or slams, but that is not how it feels right now."
Murray will hope to get himself back in shape in time for the French Open which starts in a few weeks. Although his recent performances on clay suggest his wait for a first Roland Garros title may continue for another year.
A semi-final appearance in 2011 in the furthest he has progressed on the Paris dirt, it remains the only Grand Slam that he hasn't reached the final of.
The Masters 1000 tournaments of Madrid and Rome next week were supposed to be Murray's most competitive practice for the Slam.
With Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic pulling out for parenthood and injury, respectively, the British star was expected to mount a challenge to land a second crown in the Spanish capital after his stunning 2008 win.
However, defeat to Giraldo has ended those hopes. World no.1 Rafael Nadal - the 'King of Clay' - will now be expected to go on and win in front of his home fans, as he also looks to continue his French Open domination by landing a record ninth win.
Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/1a2u3KU
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.