Andy Murray out of Italian Open

British number one Andy Murray has lost against Richard Gasquet in the third round of the Italian Open in Rome.

The 25-year-old Scot claimed the first set on a tie-break but Gasquet battled his way back into the match to triumph 6-7 (1/7) 6-3 6-2 in almost three hours.

Gasquet goes on to face David Ferrer in the quarter-finals, while Murray’s next outing on clay will be at the French Open next week.

Murray was pushed all the way by David Nalbandian before winning his second-round encounter 6-1 4-6 7-5 but looked set for an easier time of it after making a promising start.

He won the opening three points of the match on Gasquet’s serve with a delicate drop shot, a powerful cross-court forehand and thumping two-handed backhand down the line.

However, he failed to convert any of those three break points as Gasquet battled back, and that was to be a story that summed up the opening set for the Briton.

Murray spurned 10 successive break points before finally making the most of his 11th during a lengthy seventh game that allowed the Scot to take a 4-3 lead.

Murray then saved Gasquet’s first break point in the next game to go 5-3 ahead and then created a set point in the next.

Gasquet saved again though to get back to 5-4, and he broke back in the following game to tie it up at 5-5.

The set went to a tie-break which Murray won comfortably, but Gasquet came racing back, taking the first two games of the second set en route to winning it 6-3.

The decider went with serve until the sixth game, when Murray took a major gamble by advancing to the net on the Gasquet backhand and the move backfired as he could only deflect a return into the net to give the Frenchman a break at 4-2.

Gasquet was looking sharp and held to move 5-2 ahead and claimed a second break on his first and only match point, Murray thumping a tired-looking forehand into the net to bring the contest to a close.

In the evening session, Roger Federer held off a spirited challenge by Spanish veteran Juan Carlos Ferrero to book his place in the quarter-finals with a hard-fought 6-2 5-7 6-1 victory.

The 32-year-old Ferrero fought back after dropping the first set to seize the single decisive break in the second, only for the Swiss third seed to turn on the style in the decider and wrap up victory in one hour and 47 minutes.

Federer, seeking his second consecutive clay-court title after victory in Madrid next week, will play home favourite Andreas Seppi in the last eight after the Italian squeezed past Federer’s Davis Cup team-mate Stanislas Wawrinka 6-7 (1/7) 7-6 (8/6) 7-6 (8/6).