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A racquet-smashing Andy Murray saw his hopes of a third Miami Open title go up in flames as he was beaten in three sets by Grigor Dimitrov.
Murray, who also went out of the Indian Wells Masters in the third round a fortnight ago, was a set up but the 26th seed hit back to seal a 6-7 6-4 6-3 victory and leave Murray with just two wins on the ATP World Tour since reaching the Australian Open final in January.
Playing at his training base in Florida, where he won the 2009 and 2013 titles, there was little sign of home advantage for the Brit as the Bulgarian dominated from the baseline throughout the match and when Dimitrov won the second set, Murray took his frustration out on his racquet, which earned him a violation from the umpire.
The opening set had started well for Murray as after wasting three break points in the opening game he then made the breakthrough in the third game before Dimitrov hit straight back to level at 2-2.
It went with serve until a tie-break where the Brit prevailed, conceding just one point to take the set.
Any thoughts Murray had of a safe passage were quickly extinguished as an error-riddled start to the second set saw him win just two points in the opening four games as Dimitrov raced into a 4-0 lead.
Murray brought it back to 4-3 and then had a break point to level at 5-5 but Dimitrov showed some steel to hold on for the set to send it to a deciding third and push Murray over the edge as he got violent with his racquet.
That seemed to do the trick for Murray as he took advantage of some Dimitrov errors to lead at 3-1 but then it began to crumble in the early evening sunshine in Miami.
The Bulgarian broke back straight away and M urray, looking to be struggling physically, cut a disconsolate figure in the latter stages of the match as Dimitrov won the final five games in succession to take the deciding set 6-4.
Defeat ends a difficult time for the Scot, still coping with the demands of being a new father, in the American hard-court swing of the year after exiting the BNP Paribas Open at the same stage following an unlikely defeat to Federico Delbonis.
He will now head back to Europe to prepare for the clay-court season, where he is back in action at the Monte Carlo Masters in April.
Trailing 3-1 in the final set Dimitrov could easily have crumbled and allowed Murray through, but it was the other way round and the Bulgarian was confident he would turn his fortunes around,
"Coming into the third set I knew Andy is going to run down every shot and he was up a break," he told Sky Sports 3. "That didn't discourage but I felt I was striking the ball back and I thought I would get a chance and I saw that opportunity and I was on top of my game when it came. Physically felt fine and so it is on to the next one.
"I have been working a lot, my main goal was to leave myself on the court and that is what I did. I took my opportunities, my break point percentage was high and that gave me a pretty comfortable advantage."
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