- BNP Paribas Masters
Murray stunned by Polish giant in Paris
Andy Murray was overpowered and outgunned by the towering 6ft 8in figure of Jerzy Janowicz at the BNP Paribas Masters on Thursday, falling to a three-set defeat having had the chance to serve for the match.
Murray had reached the quarter-finals of the Paris tournament on four previous occasions, but he came across an immovable object in Janowicz, who played with a freedom and flair that reflected his youthful 21 years. The refreshingly ambitious Pole troubled Murray throughout their two-and-a-half hour battle, winning 5-7 7-6(4) 6-2.
Following Novak Djokovic's surprise loss to Sam Querrey on Wednesday, Murray - the only member of the recognised Big Four left in the tournament - had a fine chance to lift his maiden title in Paris.
However, Polish qualifier Janowicz is becoming an established threat in the men's draw, currently ranked 69 in the world having started the year outside the top-200. He beat world No. 19 Philipp Kohlschreiber and No. 15 Marin Cilic to book a meeting with Murray, and he displayed an impressive array of shots throughout Thursday's encounter.
Janowicz signalled his intent in the opening game of the match, firing down two aces before closing it out with a delicate drop shot that even Murray could not chase down. When asked to return there was little threat to the Murray delivery, but the Pole nevertheless established an early platform.
His flat groundstrokes off either wing hinted that the 21-year-old will have a career based on far more than a towering serve, with hard-to-read forehands frequently whipped past Murray as Janowicz flung his racket through the ball. The youngster stayed on serve at 5-4, and then threatened to take the set when another expertly guided drop caught Murray on his heels again for 0-30.
However, the British No. 1 reacted with four straight points to avert the danger on serve, before he broke in game 11 to make the first significant move in the match. Murray still had to save break point when serving for the set, but he eventually sealed the advantage 7-5 after 49 minutes on court.
Janowicz was far from overawed though, in what was his second meeting against Murray - the only top-10 player he has faced in his career. The increasingly nonchalant drop shot emerged again early in the second set as the pair continued to trade service holds.
With Janowicz firing 22 aces in the match, a first break chance in the second stanza did not arrive until game seven, saved by a booming serve out wide by the Pole - whose wide delivery may just develop into the best the sport has to offer. He could not defend the next opportunity though, fired back with interest by Murray - who is often the kryptonite to the game's biggest servers.
That allowed Murray to serve for the match moments later, but the Brit suddenly lost composure for the first time in the contest - coughing up unforced errors as Janowicz levelled at 5-5. A tiebreaker followed, and it was the underdog who trusted his attacking weapons as Murray fell to another drop shot.
The momentum stayed with Janowicz at the start of the third as Murray was forced onto the back foot once more, beaten by a booming forehand winner as Janowicz moved ahead for the first time in the match. He then made it back-to-back breaks to move to 4-1, closing out the biggest win of his career after one final Murray rally.
"It's not easy for me to speak, I have a thousand different feelings in my heart," Janowicz said on Sky Sports. "This is an unbelievable week for me. I was already so happy after winning against Kohlschreiber and Cilic. I don't know what to say after this match. I still don't think this is happening."
Janowicz will now face Janko Tipsarevic for a place in the semi-finals, after the Serbian increased his chances of securing the final spot in the field for next week's ATP World Tour Finals with a three-set victory over Juan Monaco.