LONDON -- Peter Gabriel was in the house at the O2 Arena on Monday, but there was no "sledgehammer" in sight.
The mammoth serves were missing between Andy Murray and David Ferrer, and, on a slow hard court with two of the game's best movers, it made for extended windshield-wiper rallies. Hitting winners was as tough as finding a seat on London's Tube at rush hour.
The outcome on Day 2 of the World Tour Finals was tough on Murray, who suffered a 6-4, 7-5 loss as Group A commenced. The tournament thus had its first upset after behemoths Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal escaped in three sets Sunday. As much of a bulldog as Ferrer is, he had lost all five of his previous encounters on hard courts and 11 of 12 sets against the newly turned world No. 3.
Murray, all of a sudden, has dropped two in a row after winning 17 straight. Not that Federer was overly impressed with the winning streak. "I'm not taking anything away from what he did, but was Asia the strongest this year?" Federer said. "I'm not sure. Novak Djokovic and I were not there, and Rafa Nadal lost early in Shanghai."
Federer, as if to rub it in, also appeared on court afterward to collect yet more awards, the fans' favorite and sportsmanship.
Ferrer and Tomas Berdych to advance from the group, anyone?
Even if Murray were hurt -- he took a medical time out following the first set for a groin injury and doesn't know if he'll be able to play his two remaining matches -- you can envisage the headlines in some of the newspapers Tuesday in these parts. "Murray bottles it" or "Not so dandy Andy" would be two tamer versions. In England, he'll go from being called British to Scottish.
Murray often clutches at parts of his body when things aren't going well, but his irritability early in the first set -- more than his usual -- seemed to suggest something was amiss. He jawed at his camp, struck himself on the thigh with his racket and broke out in sarcastic smiles. He was making progress in that respect.
"I'll decide tomorrow whether or not I keep playing," he said in his news conference.
Some of the numbers also baffled.
When was the last time Murray made 24 unforced errors in a set, as he did in the first? He makes the other guy miss. Not so unusual was Murray's overall first-serve percentage of 44. Against a returner of Ferrer's quality, it had to be higher.
Murray was passive, allowing Ferrer to dictate throughout. In the opening stages, the most aggression he showed came, ironically, in the form of drop shots. Ferrer moved Murray around with his favored inside-out forehand. Still, Murray led by a break in both sets.
"I think maybe he had a little bit problems, but not too many strong problems, no, because he can play all the match," Ferrer said.
Murray can at least take solace in the fact that he won two highlight-reel worthy points, sending a backhand pass past Ferrer after he scrambled to stay in a rally and crunching a cross-court forehand midway in the first. It wasn't of Federer quality, but Murray additionally executed a 'tweener in the second set.
Murray, picked by many to win the tournament, now faces a struggle simply to get fit for Wednesday, a sledgehammer-like blow.