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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019
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Murray slump continues with shock exit while coach-less Djokovic advances

The Scot’s form struggles are a concern just weeks out from the French Open.

Andy Murray is struggling for form.
Andy Murray is struggling for form.
Image: Matthias Oesterle

WORLD NUMBER ONE Andy Murray’s slump in form continued as he crashed out of the Madrid Masters third round 6-3, 6-3 to lucky loser Borna Coric today.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic did ease into the quarter-finals, though, with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Feliciano Lopez.

Coric was only handed a late reprieve to enter the draw in Madrid after losing in qualifying to Mikhail Kukushkin.

“After one match of the quallies where I lost and I was booking my flight back to home,” said Coric.

“I couldn’t imagine this when I woke up this morning, I always believed but I wasn’t sure how I was going to play. In the end I played as I had dreamed.”

However, Murray cut a frustrated figure as he was swept aside by the 20-year-old Croatian for the second time in the pair’s four meetings. And the Scot’s form is a major concern with the French Open fewer than three weeks away.

“I didn’t help myself find a way into the match to start playing better,” said Murray.

“I definitely think I need to be concerned about today.

“It’s not always the worst thing losing a match, but it’s sometimes the manner of how you lose the match is what can be concerning or disappointing.”

Coric broke the fragile Murray serve three times in the first set under the roof at the Manolo Santana centre court due to rain in the Spanish capital.

And one poor service game from the Wimbledon champion cost him dear in the second as Coric served out for the match to set up a quarter-final meeting with Dominic Thiem.

Djokovic has had his own struggles of late.

The Serb parted ways with his coaching staff of 10 years last week after also suffering early exits at the Australian Open and Monte Carlo Masters.

Novak Djokovic. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

However, he believes he is making slow but steady progress after seeing off Lopez and a partisan crowd to reach the last eight.

“If you’re playing against a Spanish player in Madrid, it’s obviously a different game, it’s a different feeling,” said Djokovic.

“They have a lot of support. You need to kind of hold your nerve, hold your concentration, and use all the necessary energy at the right moments.”

Djokovic faces a much tougher test on Friday against world number eight Kei Nishikori, who earlier swept aside David Ferrer 6-4, 6-3.

Rafael Nadal’s quest for a third straight title after wins in Monte Carlo and Barcelona faces a stiff test against Nick Kyrgios in the night session.

David Goffin awaits the winner of that clash after the Belgian beat world number six Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-2.

Thiem saved five match points to edge out Grigor Dimitrov in a thrilling third-set tie-break 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (11/9).

The Austrian will face 20-year-old German Alexander Zverev next after his fine form continued with a 6-4, 6-4 win over 11th seed Tomas Berdych.

In the women’s Madrid Open, third seed Simona Halep remains on course to defend her title as she thrashed American Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-1.

Halep faces Latvian Anastasija Sevastova in Friday’s semi-finals after the world number 22 saw off Kiki Bertens 6-3, 6-3.

France’s Kristina Mladenovic also reached the last four in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 over Sorana Cristea.

– © AFP 2017

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