Andy Murray was beaten 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 by Lucas Pouille in the first round of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
Murray, back on court after pulling out of the Citi Open in Washington earlier this month, had won all four previous meetings with the Frenchman but was below par and inconsistent against the 16th seed, serving eight double faults.
Former world No 1 Murray was broken in the first game as Pouille took the opening set in just over 30 minutes. Murray hit straight back to level the match after winning the second set 6-1 in convincing style. He broke Pouille in the first game, stepping on to the front foot, finding his range and playing more aggressively. Pouille was broken for a second time to trail 4-1 and after Murray comfortably held, the Frenchman lost his serve again in the seventh game to send the match into a decider.
But Murray lost his way again and could not contain the impressive shot-making of Pouille, who dominated the third set to win – and hit 40 winners during the match – in an hour and 53 minutes. Pouille pounced on Murray’s nervous start to the decider as the Briton double-faulted on the first point before being broken in the opening game.