Andy Murray fell to a 7-5 6-2 defeat to Andrey Rublev in the second round of the Rotterdam Open, but there were positives to take for the Scot.
Handed a wildcard into the event as he looks to work his way back to fitness and form, Murray was a match for the fourth seed for long spells of the opening set.
He was unable to find a response after losing the set and visibly tired as the match wore on, but the miles that were put into his legs will be of benefit down the line.
‘An unbelievable battle' - Murray after Tiafoe epic
There were positive signs for Murray in the opening exchanges, as he traded well from the back of the court with a player who reached the quarter finals of the Australian Open last month.
- 'I wasn't good enough' - Murray after Rublev defeat in Rotterdam
- Murray tips Rublev for long period at the top
- Murray: I get told to retire after every loss - I’m playing for my career
Movement has always been a hallmark of Murray’s play and despite all the problems with his hip, he showed excellent defence in the fifth game of the opening set to hold serve.
'I blew it, I messed up' - Murray on defeat to Rublev in Rotterdam
The former world number one came under greater pressure as the set wore on. An ace down the middle in the ninth game staved off the threat, but two games later his serve was broken.
A weak forehand from Murray gifted a break point to Rublev and the Scot smashed his racket in anger when conceding the break of serve seconds later.
Murray forged break points of his own in the following game, but was unable to take them as Rublev closed out the opening set.
Professional sports are desperate for the return of fans, and will be better spectacles for it.
There is an argument for fans to remain completely silent for Murray matches, as the lack of background noise makes the Scot an even more entertaining spectacle.
The relentless mutterings to himself between points, both positive and negative, are a delight. He went into overdrive in berating himself while dropping serve in the fifth game of the second set.
'I really didn't feel good' - Murray after comeback win over Haase
Rublev broke again and closed out the match a short time later as Murray's resistance crumbled.
Earlier in the day, the number one seed Daniil Medvedev fell to a 7-6(4) 6-4 defeat to Dusan Lajovic.
The number three seed Alexander Zverev was toppled 7-5 6-3 by Alexander Bublik, with the win coming three days after the Kazakhstani had been beaten in the final of the Singapore Tennis Open.
Kei Nishikori advanced to the quarter finals courtesy of a 6-3 2-6 7-5 win over Alex de Minaur.
Murray saves match points to beat Tiafoe in epic clash at European Open
'A phenomenal achievement' - Murray praises Norrie after Indian Wells win