LONDON, June 12 (Reuters) - Andy Murray was left to rue eight set points that went begging in the first set as he slumped to a shock 7-6(10) 6-2 defeat by Czech veteran Radek Stepanek in the third round of the Aegon Championships on Thursday.
A year after completing a Queen's Club-Wimbledon grasscourt double, the British number one was strangely off colour as he allowed Stepanek to steal the opening set with a delightful crosscourt volley.
Any hopes of a Murray revival fell flat early in the second set when the British number one surrendered the opening game with a forehand error and Stepanek made sure he made the most of his chances.
The wily Czech, who at times gave Murray the run-around, sealed an impressive victory when his opponent sliced a backhand into the net on match point leaving the crowd stunned and the home favourite frustrated.
"When you play the best ones in the world, you have to come up with the best.... they bring the best out of you and it was a great win for me," Stepanek said courtside after setting up a quarter-final with South African Kevin Anderson.
Murray had beaten Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu on Wednesday in his first match under the gaze of new coach Amelie Mauresmo - stretching his winning sequence on grass to 19 matches - a sequence which started on his way to Olympic gold at Wimbledon. (Writing by Pritha Sarkat, Editing by Martyn Herman)