Murray’s Oz Open prep dealt a blow

Andy Murray was angry in Doha (Reuters)
Andy Murray was angry in Doha (Reuters)
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Wimbledon champion Andy Murray was a second-round casualty, but Rafael Nadal avoided an early exit at the Qatar Open in Doha.

Murray, playing his first ATP Tour event since back surgery in September, looked in no trouble yesterday at a set and 3-0 up on German Florian Mayer, who had lost all three of their previous meetings. However, Mayer won 11 of the last 14 games to beat Murray 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 and leave the Scot short of match practice ahead of the Australian Open in two weeks’ time.

World No.1 Nadal was also given a tough time by an unseeded German, Tobias Kamke, but withstood the challenge to win 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3.

In the quarter-finals, Nadal meets seventh seed Ernests Gulbis, who saw off Poland’s Lukasz Kubot 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

The top seed is expecting a tough afternoon, saying of Gulbis: “He’s a player you don’t want to meet because he hits every ball very hard with a very strong serve.”

On a good day for the Germans, Daniel Brands ousted second seed David Ferrer.