Andy Murray’s defeat to Tommy Paul in Stockholm puts an end to season

Andy Murray has shown beyond doubt that he can compete with and defeat the best players in the world, but the question of when he can string enough matches together to make a palpable impact on his ranking remains unanswered.

A day after toppling Jannik Sinner, the top seed, for his second victory over a top-10 player in a few weeks, Murray was unable to advance any further at the Stockholm Open as he was defeated 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 by Tommy Paul of the United States in the quarter-finals.

Paul, a talented 24-year-old American, has paired his languid, all-court game with increased aggression this year. When he wasn’t taking time away from Murray by flitting to the net, he was simply unloading on forehands and racking up winners around the court. He piled pressure on Murray throughout the dominant first set.

While Murray pulled off his victory against Sinner with a high, consistent level throughout, here he threw in unhelpful errors and his legs looked heavy. He continued to toil and he briefly found success as the match became more physical, but after Paul’s level dropped in the second set, the American returned to form from the baseline and dominated with his forehand at the close.

Murray then threw in his first double fault of the set on break point at 3-4 to give away the only break of the third set. Paul nervelessly served out his victory.

With his defeat, the most active season of Murray’s career since 2017 has come to an end. Murray started the year struggling with his fitness and unable to compete regularly, and he has ended it by competing eight weeks in a row. His body has become more robust and his level has risen steadily, but he remains outside the top 130 because he has been unable to string wins together. He will continue to rely on wildcards to compete in ATP events at the beginning of next season.

Still, with a potential new addition to his coaching team after trialling with Esteban Carril in Sweden and an important off-season to come, he departs this season with his head high and hopeful of better days to come. “My game will improve over the off-season,” said Murray. “I just need to make sure with my team that we get a good plan in place to make sure that come the beginning of January those improvements have been made.”

Earlier in the day in Sweden, Dan Evans was also unable to advance to the semi-finals as he lost 1-6, 6-1, 6-1 to Frances Tiafoe.

Meanwhile, the group stages continued on day two of the WTA Finals in Guadalajara, Mexico as Maria Sakkari, the fourth seed, marked her debut in the competition by defeating fifth seed Iga Swiatek 6-2, 6-4. Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion and still only 20 years old, left the court in tears of frustration after being unable to produce her best tennis on one of the biggest stages of her young career.