ATP Qatar Open: Andy Murray suffered a surprise defeat to Florian Mayer
Last Updated: 01/01/14 9:20pm
Andy Murray: Went 3-0 up in the second set before losing the decider
Andy Murray's comeback hit a bump in the road when he lost to German Florian Mayer in the second round of the Qatar Open.
The third seed, playing in his first official event since back surgery, took the first set against the world No 40 but eventually went down 3-6 6-4 6-2.
Murray is not scheduled to play another tournament before the Australian Open and the early exit in Doha leaves him short of competitive matches ahead of the year's first grand slam.
His normally reliable serve misfired as he was broken twice in each of the last two sets, while he could only convert three of seven break points on Mayer's delivery.
By contrast, Mayer was able to dominate the deciding set courtesy of some excellent serving that saw him drop just three points, while capitalising on both break points garnered on the Scot's serve.
Murray has won twice here and also on his seasonal returns in Brisbane the last two years, and after bagging the opening set he raced into a 3-0 lead in the next.
But the German fought back to level and then made it four games in a row to move ahead in the set, taking advantage of Murray's obvious frustration.
The British number one stopped the rot to force his opponent to serve for the set, but Mayer was on a roll and clinched it to love.
And the 30-year-old continued to keep Murray on the back foot with another break at the start of the decider, time and again forcing his opponent out of court with angled backhands.
Murray could make no inroads on the Mayer serve, and he began to look very weary as the German broke again to lead 5-2 before polishing off a notable victory.
Top seed Rafa Nadal was forced to battle hard by world No 74 Tobias Kamke before he overcame the German 6-3 6-7 6-3 in a match lasting two hours and 25 minutes.
A solitary break was enough for Nadal to take the opening set but he went a break down in the second before levelling at 4-4, only for Kamke to win the tie-break 7-3.
However, the Spaniard upped his level in the decider, moving ahead early on and not challenged on his serve thereafter.
He will next face seventh seed Ernests Gulbis, who was also pushed to three sets before he fended off Poland's Lukasz Kubot 6-2 4-6 6-3.
On an otherwise dismal day for the seeded players, Peter Gojowczyk of Germany knocked out sixth-ranked compatriot Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6 7-6 while Romanian Victor Hanescu saw off eighth-seed Fernando Verdasco 4-6 7-6 6-2.
David Ferrer was also an early casualty, the second seed losing in straights sets to Germany's Daniel Brands. Qualifier Dustin Brown was another German to progress, taking a marathon second set 15-13 on the tie-breaker in his 3-6 7-6 6-4 triumph over big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic.