Andy Murray already has Rome Masters backup after fiery umpire row in early exit

Andy Murray already has a back-up plan after crashing out of the Rome Masters in a three-set battle with Fabio Fognini. The world No 42 got into a row with umpire Mohamed Lahyani over a ball mark before taking to Instagram to keep airing his grievances. But Murray will have another chance to get some more wins next week as he has already signed up for the Bordeaux Challenger.

Murray suffered another early exit at a clay-court Masters 1000 as old foe Fognini defeated his 6-4 4-6 6-4 on Wednesday evening. It was a tense match which saw the Brit argue a ball mark on the clay early on, something he remained unhappy with as he later slammed the incident on Instagram.

“Stadium full of Italians booing and whistling, thinking I’m trying to cheat Fabio out of [a] point all because Mo couldn’t read a mark properly. Cheers mate,” he commented on a video of his argument with Lahyani. The defeat is another setback in the 35-year-old’s quest to be one of the top 32 seeds at Wimbledon, costing him the chance to rack up more ranking points in Rome.

But Murray will have another shot next week as he was previously announced for next week’s BNP Paribas Primrose Bordeaux. The tournament is another of the new Challenger 175 category events – with Murray winning one last week in Aix-en-Provence.

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And he is part of a top line-up in Bordeaux, with Grand Slam champions Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem also expected to play. Murray made the same decision after suffering a first-round defeat at the Madrid Masters, then going on to take a wildcard into the Aix-en-Provence Challenger to get some wins on the clay.

And he ended up going all the way, defeating world No 17 Tommy Paul in the final to lift his first trophy since 2019. It also propelled him back into the top 50 and he reached his highest ranking in five years at No 42 in the world.

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But the former champion in Rome was unable to make his recent run of form translate at the Italian Open. Bordeaux is now expected to be Murray’s last event before the French Open, where he will be hoping to keep picking up some victories on the clay to boost his hopes in Paris.

Murray has played the French Open just once since his semi-final appearance in 2017 – a run he often associates with his hip injury. He competed at Roland Garros in 2020 when it was postponed to October as a result of the pandemic but lost in the opening round and is set to make his return later this month.

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