MADRID (AP) " Andy Murray's latest defeat has left him worried.
Murray said his third-round loss to 20-year-old lucky loser Borna Coric at the Madrid Open was disappointing not only because it kept him from advancing in yet another tournament, but mostly because of his discouraging performance.
"I definitely think I need to be concerned," the top-ranked Murray said. "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."
Murray was outplayed by the 59th-ranked Croatian in a 6-3, 6-3 defeat on Thursday, struggling on serve and making 28 unforced errors.
"I didn't help myself sort of find a way into the match to start playing better," he said. "That was disappointing because you're not always going to play your best tennis, but you can still find ways to make it difficult for your opponent, and I didn't do that at all."
It was the fifth loss of the year for Murray in what has been a lackluster season. He won only one tournament and hasn't made it past the semifinals in the three clay-court tournaments he has played. He lost to Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the third round in Monte Carlo after blowing a 4-0 lead in the deciding set, then was eliminated by Dominic Thiem in the semifinals in Barcelona.
"Against Thiem in Barcelona, I was disappointed to lose, but I felt like I competed really well," Murray said. "I did some good stuff in the match, found a way to turn it around and make it, you know, a tough match for him. Whereas today I didn't really do any of that stuff. That's concerning. So I need to think about exactly why that is, what I can do about it."
Murray's only title of the year came in Dubai. He was trying to return to the final in Madrid after a runner-up finish to Novak Djokovic last year. The British player won the Madrid title in 2015.
Murray is expected to play in Rome next week before heading to the French Open, where he lost to Djokovic in last year's final.
Murray entered the clay season trying to regain his form after a right elbow injury that kept him out of the Miami Open and the Davis Cup quarterfinals.
"That's no reason for how I played the last few weeks," he said. "That's not an excuse. However, when you do miss a period of time, getting back into playing matches, the most important thing is to play. I didn't for a month. That set me back a little bit."
Murray was optimistic about his chances of recovering from his recent struggles.
"You know, things can turn around quickly in tennis," he said. "Borna lost in the qualifying here a few days ago. Now he's in the quarters playing very good tennis. Things can change fast. But you need to have the right sort of ideas, correct ideas, understand why you're in the position you're in. Hopefully I can do that, you know, with my team, and play better in Rome and Roland Garros."
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni