Following his stirring doubles title win at the Fever-Tree Championships last week, Andy Murray and his scratch partner Marcelo Melo were given an Eastbourne exhibition yesterday by the top seeds Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal.
In a Nature Valley International first-round match that lasted just 64 minutes, Murray and Melo went down by a comprehensive 6-2, 6-4 scoreline.
With last week's partner Feliciano Lopez absent, the defeat was a reality check for British fans, who could have been forgiven for forgetting that until last week Murray had not played since a second hip operation in January.
On the face of it, this was a bit of a horror show for Murray, who lost three of his four service games against a pair he and Lopez had beaten at Queen's last week. But as even the casual doubles player knows, a break of serve can often be as much about the player at the net as the one serving.
This was certainly the case yesterday where Melo — a former Wimbledon champion — appeared to be suffering from a case of the yips as he butchered a series of easy volleys.
He eventually rediscovered his composure, but he need not hold his breath waiting for a return invitation from Murray.
Instead Murray's attention will turn to Wimbledon, where he will partner France's four-time major winner Pierre-Hugues Herbert and anticipates being in fine physical condition. "I had a really, really good week last week and pulled up fine," he said after yesterday's defeat. "I was not in any pain or discomfort.''
Murray said he had not yet decided on his plans for the next few days, but that he would head to Wimbledon to try to get a feel for the conditions. "It's more I get to go and get used to the conditions and stuff at Wimbledon and the courts again," he said. "They are different. I know they're grass, but they are different each week.''
As well as working on his own game, it was clear from the painful lack of chemistry Murray had with Melo that he will need to have some proper time practising with Herbert ahead of Wimbledon.
How much time the pair get together will depend on Herbert's progress in the singles at Eastbourne, where he will compete in the second round against Murray's fellow Brit Dan Evans. As for his chances of repeating that Queen's victory, Murray said: "I don't have high expectations at all."
However when prodded about whether the world's leading doubles teams would be taking him seriously, he said: "I don't care whether they take me seriously as a doubles player or not, to be honest. I'll give them good matches, I'm sure, when I play against them."
Murray was also asked about his involvement in the Wimbledon mixed doubles event, which has been a source of speculation since he revealed last week that he had been turned down by world No 1 Ashleigh Barty and Kristina Mladenovic.
Murray also said that he would be keen to play with either Venus or Serena Williams.
- Telegraph Group Ltd