Murray wasn't able to defend his Queen's title (©GettyImages)
Murray wasn't able to defend his Queen's title (©GettyImages).

Andy Murray blames himself for Stepanek loss

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Andy Murray admitted he had nobody to blame but himself after losing to Radek Stepanek in the third round at the Aegon Championships on Thursday.

The 27-year-old, who was playing in his second match after appointing new coach Amelie Mauresmo last week, squandered seven set points in the first-set tie-break and a 6-2 lead on the way to a surprising 7-6 (12-10), 6-2 loss to his Czech opponent.

Stepanek, seeded 15th, caused the shock of the tournament so far, given he knocked out the third seed and three-time reigning champion going into the event.

Murray was disappointed that he lost the first set in particular from a comfortable position.

"I have only got myself to blame that I lost the first set,” he said.

“I don't know how many set points I had, but quite a lot of them were on my serve.

"On this surface especially you shouldn't really be losing sets like that. For me, that's what's disappointing really about the match. And then unfortunately I got broke in the first game of the second set. I couldn't quite get it back."

The world number five’s appearance at the Queen’s Club came in the week after he equalled his best run at the French Open, where he reached the semi-finals before losing to world number one Rafael Nadal.

This has left the Wimbledon champion needing a break as he looks to defend his title at SW19, and he is planning to take some time off before the tournament starts on Monday June 23.

"I'm going to take a couple of days off now, because since the Monday before the French Open I have played every single day bar one up to now.

"I'll rest. I won't hit any balls. I won't go to the gym. Then on Sunday I'll start hitting balls again. I'll start training and start going to the gym.”

Grass has been Murray’s favoured surface in recent years, as the defeat to Stepanek ended a run of 19 consecutive victories on grass, which included his tournament wins at the 2012 Olympics as well as Queen’s and Wimbledon in 2013.

Murray feels that being given a decent amount of preparation time on grass is integral to his chances of being successful at Wimbledon, as he has only been allowed three days of practice on grass since losing at Roland Garros last week.

"My best tennis has been on this surface, so I just need to get on the practice court. I need to spend some time on this surface to get used to it.

"All of my best results on the grass last year came when I had obviously a decent amount of preparation time. When I played my best tennis at the Olympics, that was seven or eight weeks I spent on the grass courts.”

It has not been the best of starts for the Dunblane-born player under his new coach, and it is unclear whether they will continue to work together beyond one more tournament, as they have not decided whether the Frenchwoman will remain in the job after Wimbledon.

Murray is now in danger of losing fifth place in the ATP rankings to Tomas Berdych, though even if that were to happen it would not be likely to affect his seeding for Wimbledon, as it is also based on tournament performances on grass in the last two years.

He is yet to reach the final of a tournament in 2014, and his world ranking has dropped three places since his victory at Wimbledon last year, but his successful run on grass means that he is still likely to be in the top four seeds when the draw is made next week.

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