Nov 11; Andy Murray`s winning streak came to an end when the world number three slumped to a 4-6 7-6 6-4 quarter-final defeat at the Paris Masters after a three-hour tussle against the fifth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych on Friday.
British second seed Murray, who was on a 17-match winning run, was two points from victory at 5-5 in the second set tiebreak but Berdych kept his composure.
Berdych, the 2005 Paris Masters champion, will face either Swiss third seed Roger Federer or Argentine Juan Monaco on Saturday.
"He didn`t miss a first serve I don`t think on any of the break points," Murray told a press conference.
"On this surface that`s a huge advantage. A couple of times he hit a forehand bang onto the line, and you can`t do too much about that.
"So it`s easy to say, yeah, you had opportunities, but it`s what -- how he plays on them. If he plays well, can`t do much about it."
World number one Novak Djokovic pulled out with a shoulder injury before his quarter-final match against France`s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the sixth seed (see ).
Murray and Berdych, however, provided the Bercy crowd with a good, old-fashioned dogfight.
The Scot, who withdrew from the Swiss Indoors in Basel last week with injury, claimed a hat-trick of titles during the Asian swing but Berdych ended his hopes of arriving at the ATP World Tour finals in London with another piece of silverware.
Murray staved off three break points early on, then stole Berdych`s serve on his second opportunity with a powerful passing winner in the seventh game.
Berdych then saved seven set points, but Murray bagged the opener on his service game on his ninth attempt with a fine crosscourt forehand winner.
Berdych`s forehand began to fire in the second set and he sent down some sizzling returns to move 3-0 ahead.
A bout of nerves, however, cost him a break just as he served to level the tie at 5-3, but the Czech regained his composure in the tiebreak which he won 7-5.
Murray`s frustration boiled over in the third set with one rant at the umpire after Berdych was awarded new balls, while facing two break points.
"Tomas decided that the balls were too soft -- which they weren`t," he explained.
"The umpire gave him three brand new balls to serve with... I wasn`t aware that they were just changing three brand new balls. Then that totally changed the way the ball plays and the court plays. That was what happened. I just asked, Is it not normal to let the opponent also see the balls?"
Murray got a warning in the process.
"Actually I said bollocks to the chair umpire and that got me a warning. I have been to watch a lot of football matches and you say a lot worse than that and you don`t get yellow card," he said.
Berdych broke decisively in the ninth game of the deciding set when Murray served a double fault just as the clock ticked past the three-hour mark.
He followed up on serve, ending the contest after three hours 12 minutes on his second match point when Murray sent a forehand wide.