Mur­ray’s re­turn to DC ends quickly with loss to Gabishvili


Andy Mur­ray’s re­turn to the Citi Open sure re­sulted in a short stay.

Seeded No. 1 and ap­pear­ing at the hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open for the first time in nearly a decade, the two-time ma­jor cham­pion bowed out in his open­ing match with a 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (4) loss to 53rd-ranked Tey­mu­raz Gabashvili of Rus­sia on Wed­nes­day night.

Mur­ray had his chances against Gabashvili, who was limp­ing be­tween points on a bad left leg. Mur­ray broke for a 5-4 lead in the third set and served for the vic­tory. But he got bro­ken right back, sail­ing a back­hand long to make it 5-all.

“Ob­vi­ously, dis­ap­pointed not to close it out in the third set when I had a chance to do that,” said Mur­ray, the first top-seeded man to lose his open­ing match in Washington since Ivan Lendl in 1993. “There’s things I feel I could have done bet­ter.”

In the tiebreaker, the thir­dranked Mur­ray went ahead 4-3. From there, though, he wouldn’t take another point, drop­ping the last four against Gabashvili, who has never won a tour ti­tle and came into this match with a 9-13 record in 2015.

Gabashvili said he earned the nick­name “Tsunami” in the past, be­cause he would “play one match great, but then I could lose to any­one.”

“When you win 7-6 in the third against Andy Mur­ray, it’s some­thing spe­cial,” said Gabashvili, who had won only three of 25 pre­vi­ous matches against top-10 op­po­nents and called Wed­nes­day’s vic­tory the “100 per­cent” most im­por­tant of his ca­reer.

Mur­ray, who re­ceived a firstround bye, was play­ing his first match of the North Amer­i­can hard­court cir­cuit -- and in his first tour­na­ment since reach­ing the semi­fi­nals at Wim­ble­don last month.

“It’s ob­vi­ously a dis­ap­point­ing match to lose,” Mur­ray said, “but it’s not like I got blown off the court.”

Mur­ray was the run­ner-up in Washington in 2006, and hadn’t been back since. This time, he trailed 4-1 at the start against Gabashvili, got back on serve, but then was bro­ken to end the first set. On Gabashvili’s third set point, he pro­duced a down-the-line back­hand win­ner to cap a 14-stroke ex­change, then pounded his chest with his right fist twice while shout­ing “Come on!”

Although Mur­ray climbed back into the match in the sec­ond set, he was hardly at his best in the third, and his serve did not get him out of trou­ble in the tiebreaker.

Ear­lier Wed­nes­day, 6-foot-10 Amer­i­can John Is­ner hit 17 aces, won 37 of 40 first-serve points and moved into the third round by beat­ing Vic­tor Estrella Bur­gos of the Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic 6-3, 7-6 (5). The eighth-seeded Is­ner never faced a break point, pow­er­ing serves that regularly topped 130 miles per hour.

Over and over, Is­ner would smack a high-bounc­ing serve that rose out of reach for the 5-8 Estrella Bur­gos.

“When I’m play­ing play­ers that are sig­nif­i­cantly shorter than me, like my op­po­nent out there tonight, it helps,” Is­ner said. “I hit a few serves that went into the fourth row of the stands.”

In other matches, sev­enth-seeded Feli­ciano Lopez ended Lley­ton He­witt’s last ap­pear­ance at the Citi Open with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 vic­tory. Next for Lopez is a match against Sam Groth, who elim­i­nated ninth­seeded Vik­tor Troicki 6-3, 6-4. Un­seeded Amer­i­can Steve John­son de­feated 11th-seeded Bernard Tomic 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-2. Other win­ners in­cluded 2012 cham­pion Alexandr Dol­go­polov, Richard Gas­quet, Grigor Dim­itrov and Alexan­der Zverev.

In the women’s tour­na­ment, de­fend­ing cham­pion Svet­lana Kuznetsova with­drew, cit­ing an in­jury to her lower left leg, which al­lowed Sloane Stephens to move into the quar­ter­fi­nals.


Andy Mur­ray, of Bri­tain, re­turns a shot from Tey­mu­raz Gabashvili, of Rus­sia, at the Citi Open ten­nis tour­na­ment in Washington, Wed­nes­day, Aug. 5.

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