Andy Murray cut a frustrated figure as he lost out to top seed Hubert Hurkacz in straight sets, 7-6(4) 6-3, in the quarter-finals at ATP Metz.
The 34-year-old recorded encouraging results against sixth seed Ugo Humbert and Vasek Pospisil in the rounds of 32 and 16 respectively, but Hurkacz was too strong for him on Friday as he attempted to reach the last four.
Murray was very much in contention as he took the opening set to a tie-break, but it was at that point that the Pole found the edge to take it 7-4 and asset his authority on the encounter.
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At 2-2 in the second set a resurgence from the Brit still seemed possible, only for Hurkacz to break serve to establish a 4-2 lead and once again assume control.
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The world number 13 managed to find a superb rhythm on his serve as he fired down 13 aces and won 83 per cent of the points on his first delivery.
The 24-year-old Hurkacz will next take on Peter Gojowczyk of Germany in the semi-finals in Metz with home favourite Gael Monfils lurking on the other side of the draw, along with Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta.
For former world number one Murray, playing with a metal hip after his multiple surgeries, it was a chastening result after a string of positive results.
The Scot had said prior to the match that "the results are coming and my tennis is getting better", but it was still not enough to overcome Hurkacz.
However, having reached his first ATP Tour quarter-final since October 2019, Murray will surely feel encouraged looking ahead to 2022.
Next up for the three-time Grand Slam champion is a flight to San Diego for next week’s ATP tournament in southern California.
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