rfi.fr– Andy Murray squandered seven match points on Monday night as he frittered away his first round match at the Paris Masters against Dominik Koepfer.
Koepfer, who lost in the final round of qualifying on Sunday, benefited from the withdrawal of Jenson Brooksby to feature in the tie as a lucky loser.
And the 27-year-old German played with the abandon of a reprieved man against the former world number one who had been given a wildcard invitation to the tournament where he climbed to the top of men’s ladder during his surge to the title.
Since those heady days of November 2016, Murray has plummeted down the rankings due to a hip injury which forced him off the circuit.
In his heyday, Murray would have made mincemeat of a world number 58. But those heady heights are ancient history.
Koepfer broke early in the first set and held on to take it 6-4.
And he nursed an early break in the second right up until serving for the match at 5-4.
He cracked and allowed Murray to level at 5-5. The Briton exploited the fragility to take the next two games and make it one set apiece.
“I had it in my hands in the second set when I served for the match,” said Koepfer.
“But at the changeover I knew it would be difficult as it was Andy Murray … I’ve seen him come back so many times … and he did.”
It was level pegging in the decider until 3-3 when Koepfer appeared to have rediscovered his aggression and accuracy.
He racked up three consecutive break points. But Murray chipped away and ultimately held firm to take a 4-3 lead.
Koepfer showed no little verve when serving to stay in the match when Murray was 5-4 up.
A trademark Murray backhand passing shot set up 15-30 and a another deep backhand followed by a volley brought up two match points.
Koepfer saved one with an overhead smash after a duff lob and he fired off a backhand winner from an ill-judged drop shot.
Another sloppy volley gave Koepfer the chance to pick Murray off at the net.
And it was was all square at 5-5 after two hours and 34 minutes.
The men entered the tiebreak at 6-6 after two hours and 42 minutes.
Murray started the shootout with a double fault but recovered his poise to lead 6-4.
Those match points were frittered away by passivity and a poor volley.
Three more came and went for the 34-year-old.
Koepfer got his chance at 10-9 up and took it to end the contest after three hours of combat.
“It was an unbelievable match,” he added. “I’m just really happy to go through.
Koepfer will next play ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime or Italian Gianluca Mager, who defeated him in the final round of qualifying last week in Vienna.