Dubai, United Arab Emirates :Andy Murray's first tournament since reaching the Australian Open final was ended in the second round of the Dubai Championships by Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 on Wednesday.
Tipsarevic evened his record at 3-3 against Murray, who's never had an easy time with the Serb. Tipsarevic rated this latest win highly.
"One of the biggest wins, surely," he said. "For me, Murray is a contestant to be No. 1 at the end of the season. He played unbelievable tennis at the Australian Open. He was one of the favorites to win the tournament here, for sure."
Murray, who converted only three of 12 break chances, begged to differ.
"It is always disappointing to lose, but I did not have much expectation from the tournament," Murray said.
"I am coming from a big break after the Australian Open and was not as prepared as I should have been for the tournament. I was still trying out things on the court, rather than playing my normal game."
By the end of the round, only three seeds made the last eight after No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga succumbed to Ivan Ljubicic 7-5, 6-3.
Tipsarevic, who hadn't won on tour this year until this week, served for the match at 5-3 in the third set but was broken by Murray's stunning double-fisted backhand passing shot on the run. However, Tipsarevic then broke Murray a third time to seal the match after 2 hours, 30 minutes.
"Andy is one of the best when it comes to return of serves. I kind of expected that my serve will be broken," Tipsarevic said. "I just told myself that I have to remain calm and composed and take my chances when they come. And I am glad I did just that."
The pair hit 13 aces each but Murray landed in only just more than half of his first serves, and Tipsarevic took three of his four break chances.
"I came here with fever and being completely sick, but I'm feeling better with each passing day," Tipsarevic said.
"Last night, I ate two big heads of white garlic, because Novak (Djokovic) told me I'm going to feel better. Actually, I did."
Djokovic admitted to feeling fortunate to get past Serbian countryman Viktor Troicki 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals.
Djokovic felt the heat from Troicki and the 34-degree (93 F) temperature until midway through the second set when the growing shade across the court helped to slow down the balls to Djokovic's liking.
Up a set and 3-3 in the second, Troicki missed game point and Djokovic took over, winning in 2 hours, 6 minutes.
"I wasn't happy with the performance overall. But I won, that's what matters," he said.
"He was a better player for a set and a half. I think this is one of the rare tournaments that you really feel (a) big, big difference between the day match and night match. The balls go really much faster, and as soon as the shade came on the court, I felt more control over my game."
Fourth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko retired after losing the first set 6-3 to Michael Berrer of Germany because of the left wrist he injured at Rotterdam two weekends ago.
"It's disappointing for me because I didn't recover fast enough," said Davydenko, who was doubtful for Russia's Davis Cup team next week.
Marin Cilic came back from 6-3 down in the tiebreaker to beat Austrian qualifier Stefan Koubek 6-2, 7-6 (6) and improve his ATP Tour-best record to 17-1 this season.
Sixth-seeded Cilic and Koubek broke each other three times in the second set and Koubek, who'd won their only previous match four years ago, led 5-1 in the tiebreak.
"It was nice not to play (a) third set," Cilic said.
He will meet another Austrian in the quarterfinals after Jurgen Melzer beat Tommy Robredo of Spain 6-3, 7-5.
Seventh-seeded Michael Youzhny won 7-6 (2), 6-4 against Bjorn Phau of Germany, and Marcos Baghdatis defeated Indian qualifier Somndev Devvarman 6-3, 3-6 6-1.
Ljubicic fired 15 aces past Tsonga to make the Dubai quarterfinals for the fifth time. The 2005 finalist will meet Djokovic on Thursday. The other matchups are: Baghdatis vs. Berrer, and Youzhny vs. Tipsarevic.