Andy Murray suffered a first-round exit at the Paris Masters after losing to Gilles Simon.
Murray had the upper hand at the start of the contest and looked poised for a straightforward victory after taking the opening set. But Simon staged a comeback on home soil, rallying from a 5-3 deficit and winning four games in a row to claim the second set. Simon, who is due to retire after this tournament, took the final set to keep his career alive for at least one more match, winning 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Murray broke Simon’s serve in the second game before finding himself down 40-0 in game three. He regrouped, spinning a sideline-hugging forehand and saving three break points to extend his advantage.
Murray served for the first set at 5-3 but showed the first signs of being rattled by a vocal home crowd, double-faulting for the third time in the set to allow Simon to break back.
Simon was unable to hold his serve in the next game, however, as he overhit a smash to hand Murray the set.
Murray grew increasingly frustrated in the second set, hitting his racquet on the ground when he sent a forehand into the net with the score at 1-1. Simon capitalised on the mistake to break serve but Murray responded immediately to level the set before pulling ahead.
Murray broke Simon’s serve again to make it 5-3 but was unable to serve out for the match and the momentum began to swing in the Frenchman’s favour. Simon made it 5-5 and went on a 10-point unanswered run to break Murray for a fourth time and then clinch the set to the roar of the Parisian crowd.
The home fans seemed to be getting under Murray’s skin as Simon earned the first break of the final set to make it 2-1 and what had once looked like a potential straight-sets victory for Murray evolved into a dogged battle. And by the end, for just the third time in 19 meetings, Simon prevailed.
In contrast, Cameron Norrie cruised to victory over Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic in Paris. The British No 1 was clinical in a 6-2, 6-4 victory and will next play either Borna Coric or Corentin Moutet.
Norrie has seen his chances of qualifying for the ATP Finals end with a disappointing run since the US Open, but a strong week in France could still earn him a spot as an alternate.