Andy Murray beaten by Nicolas Mahut at Queen's Club

AEGON CHAMPIONSHIPS 2012

  • Venue: Queen's Club, London
  • Date: 11-17 June

Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Two and the red button as well as BBC One HD and BBC HD. Coverage on BBC Radio 5 live and the BBC Sport website

Britain's Andy Murray saw his grass-court season get off to a disastrous start as he lost to Nicolas Mahut in the second round of the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club.

The Scot's title defence came to an abrupt end with a 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-1) defeat by world number 65 Mahut, who has never lifted an ATP World Tour title.

Murray, who received a first-round bye, never looked comfortable and he could not have envisaged a worse way to begin his preparations for Wimbledon, which starts on 25 June.

Mahut will next face Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov in the third round on Thursday.

"Maybe it's the best victory of my career, it was a difficult match and I'm very happy, said the Frenchman.

Match stats

Murray Mahut

7

Aces

13

68%

First serves

65%

71%

First serve pts won

77%

1

Double faults

6

2/7

Break points

3/10

114

Total pts won

123

"I'm pretty sure Andy will do well at Wimbledon, maybe win this time. I'm really sorry guys, but you will see him winning matches very shortly."

Murray was returning to action after his quarter-final defeat by David Ferrer at the French Open .

He started practising at Queen's on Saturday but this was the first time he has set foot on Centre Court since lifting the trophy 12 months ago , and he looked far from happy with the surface.

Two break points went begging in the opening game as the Scot slid around the back-court and the conditions seemed to hamper his movement and intensity.

The 25-year-old had no answer when Mahut raised the pace to devastating effect in game six.

A forehand on to the line helped the Frenchman engineer his first break point and although he wasted that opportunity, a second was converted with a ruthless cross-court forehand.

Analysis

"Nicolas Mahut was a very difficult first-round opponent for Andy Murray. The Frenchman is so comfortable on the grass with his serve-volley game. It used to mean so much that a good week at Queen's would set you up for Wimbledon. All England Champions would endlessly come from here, but that is less so these days. This is no time for panic stations. Andy Murray will still get more grass-court matches in before Wimbledon and, even though he would have dearly loved to have defended his title, I don't think he will be desparately disappointed."

Mahut consolidated his strike with a hold to love and took control of the match with an ace on set point.

Murray put a backhand long to give Mahut a break point at the beginning of the second set but the British number one scrambled through before two double-faults gifted him a 2-0 lead.

A backhand floated wide though to relinquish that break in the fifth game though and a tie-break was require to separate the pair.

Murray's class and experience eventually told in the shoot-out, chasing down a drop shot to flick a majestic backhand across Mahut to level.

Interview: Andy Murray

A double-fault in game one of set three handed Murray the early initiative, but it was passed straight back when the world number four sent a lob wide on.

After uttering an expletive and repeatedly banging his racquet against his head, Murray regained his composure yet he could not take advantage of a break point in game five as Mahut stood firm.

Another tie-break beckoned but it was a one-sided affair this time as four Murray errors gave Mahut six match points, the second of which he took when Murray sliced a backhand into the net.

British number three Jamie Baker also came unstuck against French opposition - although his defeat at the hands of the world number five Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was less of a surprise.

Baker, ranked 203rd in the world, gave a good account of himself, matching Tsonga from the baseline at times, but eventually slipped to a 6-3 6-2 defeat in 57 minutes.