Andy Murray's quest for his first title this season will have to wait, as he was eliminated in the fourth round at Indian Wells by Milos Raonic, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.
The ATP World Tour announced the results on Twitter following the match:
Raonic also won 83 percent of his first-service points. Murray responded to Raonic's strong service game with just four aces of his own.
After losing a tightly contested second set, it appeared Murray had regained control of the match by breaking Raonic early and going up 2-1. But Raonic recovered to win the next four games and Murray didn't have another break in him.
Perhaps the upset shouldn't have come as a huge surprise. Raonic has now beaten Murray in three of their four matchups, and Murray struggled in the third round against Jiri Vesely, dropping the first set before recovering to advance.
Or perhaps Murray was simply missing his coach, Ivan Lendl, who didn't travel with him for this tournament. However, Murray told Alix Ramsay of the Daily Record after struggling to get past Vesely that Lendl's absence wasn't a factor:
Normally during tournaments I don’t speak with him loads. He and Dani will have spoken on the phone before I went out against Vesely. I spoke with him two days before the tournament started for about half an hour. He and Dani will communicate most of the time.
I wasn’t shanking balls against Vesely, I just didn’t have any rhythm on the court – I was just missing balls. That isn’t down to anyone who’s sitting in the stands, that’s just down to me executing the shots properly. I don’t think having Ivan here would have helped me play better.”
Murray didn't blame Wednesday's performance on Lendl's absence, either. Rather, it was a lack of confidence late in the match he cited, via Eric Duhatschek of The Globe and Mail:
There's no other explanation for missing those shots, I don't think. I haven't lost bad matches this year—a couple of them were close—but today, the third set was just a bad set and that's what's disappointing to me because the rest of the match was okay.
While Murray is left searching for answers, Raonic can take confidence from battling back and earning a big win. It's now the first time he's reached the quarterfinals at this event, having lost to Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the past two years, respectively.
Raonic will now face Alexandr Dolgopolov in the semifinals, with either Roger Federer or Stanislas Wawrinka potentially awaiting in the semifinals. Regardless of how far he advances, Raonic has to be pleased with his performance thus far in his first tournament since the Australian Open.
It's clear he's recovered quite nicely from his ankle injury. Now, all that remains to be seen is if he can earn his first title of 2014 as well.
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