REUTERS: Andy Murray admits he came up short in the big moments in his 7-5 6-2 second-round defeat by Andrey Rublev in Rotterdam, but the former world number one departs with encouraging signs for his future as he continues his recovery from injuries.
Murray, a three-time Grand Slam winner who claimed his first tour-level victory since August in the first round against Robin Haase, held his own against Rublev in a tight first set that lasted 62 minutes before the Russian raced away with the second.
The 33-year-old Briton, who is currently ranked 123rd after sliding down the rankings due to two hip operations, was pleased that he had gone toe-to-toe with world number eight Rublev.
"I want to be playing at this level because I learn a lot from a match like this," Murray said. "The issues and the mistakes that you make get amplified more at this level...
"There were some good signs. Just when it mattered, I wasn't good enough. I thought I moved well for the first hour or so. He is one of the bigger hitters and he wasn't getting too many free points in the first set. He was having to work hard."
Murray's long-time rival Roger Federer is set to make his return to the court in Doha next week after two knee operations in the past 12 months and the Briton has backed the 20-time Grand Slam winner to hit top gear.
"I am sure he has been training hard and is excited to get back out there and compete," Murray said. "I am sure in time, providing that his body is good, that he will play top-level tennis again because he is that good."
(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing)