There were plenty of reasons for Arnaud Clement to lose to Andy Murray on Sunday: a much slower top serve (216kph to 196kph), fewer aces (9-1) and fewer total winners (22-20).
Plus, Murray was trying to impress his new coach, Brad Gilbert, former mentor to Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick.
If Clement's play was less spectacular, it was far steadier, especially once Murray developed two blisters on his racket hand. Clement erased an early deficit and put together a 7-6 (3), 6-2 victory in the Legg Mason Tennis Classic final for his second title of the year.
The 11th-seeded Frenchman mainly worked to extend points, keeping the ball in play until No. 8 Murray erred. And Murray made repeated mistakes, finishing with 31 unforced errors to Clement's 20, often looking at his painful right hand after flubbing shots.
"He missed too much," said Clement, who won 14 of 16 points during a stretch in the second set to take complete command.
Murray, at his first tournament with Gilbert, said one blister broke open during the first set, probably because he was sweating so much with the temperature in the 30s Celsius. Murray winced as a trainer treated a blister on his right middle finger after the second game of the second set, during Clement's run to a 4-0 lead.
"You can still play, but it's just not very comfortable," Murray said. "You try not to think about it. It's just a little bit of a distraction."
He said he'd never had a hand blister before and he didn't want to tape them, because he's not used to playing with his fingers wrapped.
"It doesn't matter who you are -- it's a problem," Gilbert said.
Neither Gilbert nor Murray blamed the setback on the blisters, crediting Clement with turning things around after falling behind 3-1 in the first set. Murray was somewhat his own undoing, though, double-faulting twice and missing a forehand wide to allow Clement to break to 3-3.
"After that," Gilbert said, "Clement outplayed him."
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