sport

Murray ready for a break

Andy Murray expects his first break for three weeks to boost his Wimbledon chances after suffering a shock defeat by Radek Stepanek in the third round at Queen's Club on Thursday.

Murray, the defending champion and No 3 seed, claimed his first ATP title at Queen's in 2005 and went on to win the Wimbledon warm-up tournament three times.

But he was denied his 20th successive win on grass when he was beaten 7-6 (12-10) 6-2 by the wily Czech veteran Stepanek, who survived eight first-set points before converting with his second set point.

A break to lead 1-0 in the second set put Stepanek firmly on the road to victory, and a further break to lead 5-2 left him serving for only his second win over Murray in seven meetings.

After battling to the semi-finals of the French Open, Murray will now take two days' total rest, before cranking up his Wimbledon preparations again on Sunday.

Asked if the defeat dents his chances of retaining his SW19 crown with Wimbledon staring on June 23, Murray said: "I don't think this so, I need to spend time on the courts practising some things.

"The difference between this year and last year is that I've played a lot of matches in the last couple of weeks.

"Last year I had about a week to 10 days' preparation before this tournament.

"That obviously helped me during the tournament because not all the other players had that.

"This year I've had two days to get ready.

"I'll take a couple of days off now, because since the Monday before the French Open I've played every single day bar one.

"So I'll take a couple of days off and on Sunday I'll be back here for the charity match, then I'll start practising Sunday evening and start getting ready.

"My best tennis has been on this surface, and all my best results have come after decent preparation time.

"My best tennis at the Olympics was after seven or eight weeks on grass."

Meanwhile, Stepanek has backed Murray to recover from defeat in time to launch a robust defence of his Wimbledon crown.

"I don't think they have to be worried," he said.

"It's his first week on grass, Andy was playing long in Roland Garros and it will all come together now in the days before Wimbledon starts.

"The best ones are always the best targets, it's always special to beat the top players.

"This is the Olympic, Queen's and Wimbledon champion, he has basically won everything here on grass - so beating him is great for me.

"The decider was the tie-breaker when I was 2-6 down, and I just kept fighting."