Murray crashes out
Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:55
After finishing off his second-round match with James Blake shortly before 2am on Thursday morning, the 22-year-old Scot returned to the court 14 hours later to face Stepanek, an opponent he had beaten on each of their three previous meetings.
Fourth-seed Murray raced through the opening set, but Stepanek found his rhythm with his serve and the Briton could not summon the energy for a fightback as he joined world number one Roger Federer and the retiring Marat Safin in making an early exit from the tournament.
Murray converted the break at the third attempt in the second game of the opening set and went 5-0 up, before Stepanek held serve for the first time in three attempts.
The Czech, however, was soon a set down after 20 minutes as Murray served out comfortably.
Murray conceded a break point in the second game of the second set and Stepanek took his opportunity before holding serve for the second time in the set to go 3-0 up.
Murray recovered his composure, but Stepanek’s serve was beginning to fire as he consolidated his advantage, taking a 5-3 lead before holding serve to level the contest. It was the first time he had taken a set off the Scot in three meetings.
Stepanek opened the third set with a break of serve and a Murray double fault in the seventh game gave his opponent a double-break advantage and the opportunity to serve out the match.
But Murray broke back to delay the final verdict and then made Stepanek serve again.
Murray saved the first of three match points before, at the second attempt, Stepanek sealed his quarter-final place against Fernando Gonzalez or Juan Martin Del Potro with a first victory over the Scot.