World number one Andy Murray lost 6-3 6-3 to unseeded Borna Coric in the Madrid Open third round on Thursday as his hard start to the claycourt season continued, while Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic eased into the quarter-finals.
Murray was beaten 6-3 6-3 by Coric, ranked 59th in the world, on Thursday.
Murray produced a lacklustre display against the Croatian 20-year-old to lose 6-3 6-3, his defeat starkly contrasting the fortunes of Nadal and Djokovic, who advanced in straight sets against Nick Kyrgios and Feliciano Lopez respectively.
He will now take on Grigor Dimitrov or Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals and Murray was disappointed with his performance. "I made a lot of unforced errors and I also didn't find any way to make it a more competitive match, so that's the most disappointing thing".More news: Wife of American detained in North Korea pleads for his release
He had seemingly been growing in confidence, and rediscovering his rhythm little by little as he made his way from Monte Carlo to Barcelona, but now has just one week in Rome to find the form and belief which would make him a genuine contender for the French Open.
The Serb was in control during his service games and broke Lopez once in each set to secure the 6-4, 7-5 victory under a closed roof on center court in the Spanish capital.
"I think Feliciano played really well, especially in the second set", said defending champion Djokovic.
The head-to-head record between the two is now tied at 2-2. The signs were there early on in the match, particularly on the forehand side, that perhaps Coric could cause Murray some problems and he drew first blood with a break of serve to lead 2-3 in the opening set.More news: Haniyeh Elected Meshaal's Successor while Authority Siege Hamas Through Taxes
Djokovic faces a much tougher test on Friday against world number eight Kei Nishikori, who earlier swept aside David Ferrer 64, 63. I was in trouble, and I managed to get my way out of it with some great gets.
Murray had two break points of his own in the next game but he could not take them and he was becoming increasingly irked at how the match was panning out as it reached a crucial stage at 4-3 to Coric. "I try to enjoy my big challenge tomorrow".
The Austrian will face 20yearold German Alexander Zverev next after his fine form continued with a 64, 64 win over 11th seed Tomas Berdych.
In the women s Madrid Open, third seed Simona Halep remains on course to defend her title as she thrashed American Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-1.More news: Joanna Jedrzejczyk on Jessica Andrade and Aiming for UFC Flyweight Title