Andy Murray bowed out of the AMRO World Tennis Tournament in straight sets to Russian world No 8 Andrey Rublev.
Britain’s three-time grand slam winner was looking for only his second win over a top-10 player since returning from the career-saving hip surgery he underwent two years ago.
There were certainly encouraging signs for Murray, who came through the physical test against the big-hitting fourth seed.
Andy Murray was knocked out of the Rotterdam Open in the second round by Andrey Rublev
The Briton lost his temper and smashed his racket as the first set began to slip away from him
Fourth seed and World No 8 Andrey Rublev emerged victorious on Wednesday evening
But the shot-making on the big points which propelled him to the very top of the sport has yet to fully return as he slipped to a 7-5, 6-2 defeat in Rotterdam.
Murray’s first serve was at least carrying significantly more venom than in Monday’s three-set win over Robin Haase in the first round.
The Scot was also comfortable engaging Rublev in long, punishing rallies early on, waiting for the 23-year-old to make the first error.
But the familiar chuntering surfaced towards the end of the first set, Murray at one point exclaiming ‘I’m totally unprepared for this’, although two aces on his way to a hold for 5-4 suggested otherwise.
The three-time major winner slipped to a straight sets defeat against the highly-rated Rublev
Rublev, the clear favourite beforehand, in the end wrapped up victory with five games in a row
However, a pair of double-faults gave Rublev the break for 6-5 and a frustrated Murray smashed his racket into the ground.
He failed to capitalise on two break points as the first set slipped away in just over an hour.
Rublev, a renowned frontrunner, broke for 3-2 in the second and wrapped up victory with five games in a row.