• Mubadala World Tennis Championship

Murray suffers defeat on comeback

ESPN staff
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Andy Murray returned to action for the first time since September © AP
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Andy Murray tasted defeat on his return to competitive action after nearly three months in a 7-5 6-3 loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi.

Murray, who last played for Great Britain in guiding his nation to the Davis Cup World Group in September against Croatia, underwent a back operation shortly afterwards, and missed the rest of the 2013 campaign.

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But on his comeback, the British No. 1 always played second-best to Tsonga, who looked the fresher of the two players, and advances to the semi-finals for a showdown with the reigning and back-to-back champion Novak Djokovic.

"It's very quick courts, so you have to react very quickly. Jo was a little bit sharper than me and today he served very well," Murray said after the loss. "It's nice to be back on the match court and hopefully I can keep getting better. After here I play in Doha, then the Australian Open, so hopefully I'll be in top shape for then."

Murray, champion here in 2009, kept his composure to hold serve at 1-1, but was always playing catch-up in the opening set as Tsonga was strong on his serve.

The Wimbledon champion's back was tested in the first point of the eighth game when he got his racquet onto the end of a lob, but Tsonga made his move at 6-5, with Murray handing set point via a double fault, and then wrapping up the first set with a delightful lob.

Murray began the second set well by securing the early break when Tsonga hit the net. However, Murray was unable to consolidate the advantage as he wildly slammed the ball into the net, and with it Tsonga won the next three games to race into a 4-1 lead.

The mini run of Tsonga ended in the sixth game as Murray closed the gap to two games, but Tsonga went within one of the win at 5-2, and then held serve to seal victory.

In the day's first match, David Ferrer put on a strong display to get the better of Stanislas Wawrinka 7-5 6-1.

Ferrer, who parted ways with coach Javier Piles after 15 years at the start of the week, opened the tournament with an ace to hold serve, but Wawrinka threatened to break in the third game as the Swiss came from 40-0 down to deuce.

After fending off the threat, Ferrer though could not deny Wawrinka breaking to move 5-3 in front. However, Ferrer hit back to square the encounter at 5-5, and went on to make it four games on the spin by taking the opening set.

Wawrinka, who finished the 2013 in a career-high eighth position in the rankings and reached the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals, was completely outplayed in the second set as he only won one game, with Ferrer storming to the win to kick-off his season in style, and setting up an all-Spanish affair with world No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the last four on Friday. Murray will take on Wawrinka in a fifth place play-off.

Earlier, all six players were being photographed as part of a warm-up for the event.

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