Cincinnati, Aug 21 : American Mardy Fish ended the winning run of Andy Murray 6-7 (7-9), 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) Friday as the former champion faded in the gruelling heat of the Cincinnati Masters.
The Scottish fourth seed had asked organizers for a night match after winning the previous day in similar heatwave conditions. But that request was ignored in favour of scheduling American Fish early so that he could also play doubles.
The decision cost Murray in the end after winning the Toronto title over Roger Federer last weekend. He had been bidding for an eighth consecutive victory.
At number 36, Fish becomes the lowest ranked player in the Cincinnati semi-finals since Robby Ginepri in 2005 at number 58.
He next faces either second seed Novak Djokovic or number nine Andy Roddick.
The disgruntled Murray said his fitness is nothing that cannot be fixed with a short rest. "I'm just tired, it is nothing more than that really. It will take a few days, to return to fitness, not too long I would have thought."
The seed won the 70-minute first set in a tiebreaker after starting off the afternoon well; but his resources slowly ebbed away under the summer sun.
Fish swept the second set as Murray was seen briefly on court by the doctor. At the changeover, Murray wore icepacks and tried to conserve as much strength as possible.
In the third, the Scot rallied enough to bring on another tiebreaker, which Fish won from two concluding errors after three hours from the exhausted Murray, 2008 champion at the event.
The loss left Murray 7-1 since Wimbledon, a run which included the Los Angeles final and the Toronto title.
Murray said that by the final set, he was truly struggling. "You always try and finish matches. I think I've pulled out of maybe one match, two matches out of over 300 or something on the tour.
"But it does cross your mind a little bit when you're kind of struggling like that. But, you know, the doctor and the physio, did a good job with the ice and cooling me down a little bit."
In the closing stages, the Australian Open finalist was leaning on his racket between points and grabbing for breath.
"There's like five minutes left, so you just try and finish the match as strong as you can. In the third set I wasn't really using my legs at all on my serve, it was all arm.
"Every time there was a long point, I felt tired for two or three points afterwards. When you get to the end of the match, you just try and finish as best you can." (DPA)