Andy Murray made a dramatic exit from the Monte-Carlo Masters on Thursday, after spurning a 4-0 lead in the deciding set against Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
World number one Murray battled past Gilles Muller on Wednesday in his first competitive outing since a short spell on the sidelines with an elbow injury.
Yet the Briton was unable to build on that victory 24 hours later, as he was beaten 2-6 6-2 7-5 in a topsy-turvy encounter that featured several shifts in momentum.
Murray looked to have done enough to book a quarter-final meeting with Marin Cilic when he broke his opponent twice at the start of the deciding set, but Ramos-Vinolas came roaring back to claim a deserved and unexpected triumph, arguably the finest of his career to date.
Having made a slow start in his previous match, Murray was able to seize the early initiative on Thursday, coming through a lengthy opening service game before five breaks in succession left him 4-2 up.
Ramos-Vinolas, who initially lacked consistency despite showing flashes of brilliance, was unable to hold serve in the first set and things looked ominous for the Spaniard as Murray forged ahead.
However, to his credit, Ramos-Vinolas then enjoyed much the better of set two, three successive love service holds helping him to level the match under bright blue skies.
After two one-sided sets, the two players then took turns to dominate in the decider, Murray racing into a 4-0 lead only for his opponent to defiantly respond in kind by winning four games in a row.
Murray was in big trouble at 0-40 in game nine, but ultimately held his nerve - and serve - to break his losing streak.
Ramos-Vinolas was looking increasingly dangerous by that stage, though, with his forehand a particularly potent weapon. And the world number 24 broke at the next time of asking before taking his second match point when Murray netted a drop shot.
27. April 2017
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