Andy Murray blew an early lead as he crashed to defeat against Aslan Karatsev in the last 16 of the Zhuhai Championships in China.
Murray won the first set against his world number 63 opponent but Karatsev fought back to punish the Scot’s inconsistent serve and win 4-6 6-3 6-2.
It was the first meeting between Murray and the Russian since they faced each other in last year’s final of the Sydney Tennis Classic, which Karatsev won in straight sets.
But Murray put himself in a strong position to exact revenge after saving four early break points and going on to fashion two breaks and take the opener.
Murray had jetted to China on the back of helping Great Britain into the Davis Cup quarter-finals and beat wild card Ye Cong Mo in the opening round on Thursday.
And fatigue possibly began to take its toll as Karatsev put himself in a dominant position in the second set, going 4-1 up. Despite a mini Murray revival, he held on to level the match.
Karatsev stepped up a gear in the decider, reeling off two consecutive breaks to take a 4-0 advantage which Murray never looked likely to recover.
Karatsev will next face British number one Cameron Norrie who made a welcome return to form with a convincing 6-0 6-3 win over Marc Polmans.
Norrie arrived in China having suffered two defeats in the Davis Cup and facing a threat from Australian Polmans, who reached the final of the recent Guangzhou Challenger and came through qualifying without dropping a set.
But Norrie had too much for his opponent, cruising through the opening set before polishing off the second to book his place in the quarter-finals.
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