DUBAI (Reuters) - Andy Murray’s February torment deepened on Thursday when he lost 6-1 6-3 to 18-year-old Croatian tyro Borna Coric in the quarter-finals of the Dubai Championships.
This month the world number three has lost the Australian Open final against Novak Djokovic and then failed to live up to his top seed billing in Rotterdam as he fell by the wayside in the quarter-finals.
Murray arrived in Dubai temporarily shorn of his coach Amelie Mauresmo before struggling to find practice partners. The lack of preparation may have led to his downfall at the Aviation Club on Thursday.
“I made way too many mistakes from the beginning of the match right through to the end; early in rallies, (I was) rushing points,” the Briton told reporters.
“(It was) quite similar to the match I played against (Gilles) Simon in Rotterdam which is disappointing.”
Top seed Djokovic steamed into the last four with a 6-1 6-1 win over Marsel Ilhan of Turkey and Roger Federer eased through when Richard Gasquet retired after losing the first set 6-1 but Murray was completely outplayed.
The Scot lost three successive service games to concede the first set 6-1.
Coric, who made the main draw as a lucky loser, broke for a decisive 4-2 lead in the second set before serving out for the match.
“He doesn’t have any weak spots that you can actually say I need to play on his backhand or on his forehand,” said Coric.
“I was just trying to stay in the rally as long as I can. I was running very good.”
Murray failed to earn a single break point against Coric, the Croat winning 88 and 84 percent of points on his first and second serves respectively, while the Zagreb native also broke four times.
The Scot won only five points on Coric’s serve in the entire match.
The Croat, who last year became the youngest player to crack the top 100 since Rafa Nadal burst through in 2003, had failed to get past the second round in any of his five previous tournaments this year.
But the 84th-ranked player will be eager to build on his victory over Murray when he faces 17-times grand slam winner Federer in Friday’s semi-finals.
Second seed Federer is chasing an unprecedented seventh Dubai title and moved into the last four when Frenchman Gasquet had to pull out with lower back pain having lost the first set.
On the other side of the draw, Djokovic swept aside world number 104 Ilhan in 49 minutes for the loss of two games.
Djokovic next faces Czech Tomas Berdych who beat Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3 4-6 6-2.
Writing by Toby Davis, editing by Tony Jimenez