Indian Wells: Andy Murray`s storming start to the season hit an unexpected road bump on Saturday when the Briton was upset 6-4, 6-2 by Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the second round of the Indian Wells ATP tournament.
World number four Murray had arrived in California with high hopes after launching his 2012 campaign with a 14-2 win-loss record but his backhand let him down badly as he was beaten in straight sets at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Garcia-Lopez, who had lost to Murray in their previous two meetings, broke the Scot twice in the second set to wrap up victory in one hour 40 minutes on the imposing stadium court.
The 28-year-old Spaniard, ranked 92nd, ended the match with a strong first serve that forced a Murray backhand error and he lifted his arms skywards in jubilant celebration.
For the second year in a row Murray was eliminated in his opening match at Indian Wells, having lost 7-6, 6-3 to American qualifier Donald Young 12 months ago in the second round.
"I have to go away and think about what happened," a dejected Murray told reporters. "I played great in practice, was hitting the ball really well. I felt pretty fresh.”
"I didn`t move my best tonight, but it didn`t feel like I was moving really badly. He hardly missed the ball the whole match. He was playing with a lot of spin, and he plays his best tennis on clay courts.”
"It almost felt like playing the match on a clay court. I wasn`t able to hit through the court and I squandered so many chances. I had (Garcia-Lopez) 0-40 (on serve) two or three times, 0-30 a number of times, and I didn`t break."
The first eight games went with serve until Murray was broken after hitting a forehand long and the Spaniard comfortably served out to clinch the opening set in 44 minutes when a backhand by the Scot sailed wide.
Garcia-Lopez broke Murray`s serve in the opening game of the second set, when his opponent netted a forehand, and again in the seventh, when the Scot dumped a backhand into the net.
Leading 5-2, the Spaniard held serve to love in the eighth game, sealing victory on his first match point.
Murray, who had started his season so well, was left shaking his head.
"In comparison to last year, I was feeling way, way better," the 24-year-old Scot said. "I was feeling way more focused and confident, so I`m not sure exactly why that happened tonight.”
"I started the year really well, in Brisbane, at the Australian Open and Dubai. In comparison to how I felt coming in here last year, it was night and day."
Murray won his 22nd ATP World Tour title in Brisbane, lost to top-ranked Novak Djokovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-7, 6-1, 7-5 in an epic semi-final at the Australian Open and then crushed the Serb 6-2, 7-5 in the semi-finals of last week`s Dubai Championships.
Since appointing Ivan Lendl as his new coach at the end of last year, Murray felt he had become stronger mentally and he was excited by his radically improved booming forehand.
"I didn`t play my best tennis tonight, and I need to make sure I turn it around in time for Miami," he said.
"I have had bad losses before and come back better, so that`s obviously my goal now the next two weeks is to prepare for Miami and get myself playing very well again."