Even after the joint-heaviest defeat of his Grand Slam career at Roland Garros, there was more than a hint of defiance about Andy Murray as he exited the French Open in the first round last night, vowing: “I reckon I won’t play a match like that between now and the end of the year.”

Murray’s 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 defeat by Swiss Stan Wawrinka equalled the defeat – in terms of games won – he suffered against Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals in Paris in 2014, but there is no comparison between the two matches.

Last night, in cool, windy conditions, the Scot was out-hit and out-played in a belligerent performance by Wawrinka, the 2015 French Open champion and alongside Murray, a three-time slam champion.

Murray admitted he will need to take a long, hard look at the match to see why he played as badly as he did and knows that getting back physically to where he was before his hip operation, at the start of 2019, will be almost impossible.

But the 33-year-old said there was no reason he could not strike the ball as well as he ever did.

“There have been matches that I have played since I came back where I hit the ball well,” he said. “I know it wasn’t the best match at times, but [Alexander] Zverev was a couple of points away from winning the US Open, and I won against him the week beforehand.

“It’s going to be difficult for me to play the same level as I did before. I mean, I’m 33 now and I was ranked No.1 in the world, so it’s difficult with all the issues that I have had.

“But, yeah, I’ll keep going. Let’s see. Let’s see what the next few months hold, and I reckon I won’t play a match like that between now and the end of the year.”

Murray was brutally honest in his assessment of his performance, a match he began with a perfect drop shot but in which little else worked.

His serve was well below par, with only 36 per cent of his first serves finding their mark, and his returns, usually such a strong point in his game, off colour, finding the frame as often as the centre of his strings.

At the same time, Wawrinka, whose brutal power could hit holes in a wall, was right on his game, pounding 42 winners to Murray’s 10, while he made just 27 unforced errors, a healthy ratio at the best of times.

When the clay settles and Murray’s back home plotting his next move, he will remember that he beat Wawrinka in Antwerp last year on the way to the title, he will remember that he did not play a warm-up event and that the cool, damp conditions are not conducive to his game.

But he knows that there are some hard months ahead. The good news is he seems ready to do whatever it takes.

“Obviously [it was] an extremely tough draw,” he said. “Even if I played very well, you know, it would have been no guarantees that I win that match.

“But I also didn’t play well. I served like under 40 per cent first serves in the court; that’s just not good enough,

really, against anyone, and especially someone as good as Stan. You want to be serving in the 60 per cent sort of region. And, yeah, you won’t see many players serve under 40 per cent the rest of the tournament. That’s just not good enough.

“I need to have a long, hard think about it. It’s not for me the sort of match I would just brush aside and not give any thought to.

“There are obviously reasons behind a performance like that. I think, in terms of scoreline…that’s the worst defeat maybe of my career in a Grand Slam. I’m not sure if that’s the case. So I should be analysing that hard and trying to understand why the performance was like that.”

But do not expect him to turn himself into a basher, someone who cranks winners for fun, or a serve and volleyer.

“When I played my best tennis, that’s being an offensive baseliner, and that’s what I need to make sure I am doing.

“But like tonight if you serve at (36 per cent) and you mis-time a bunch of second-serve returns, it’s hard to play that way. So, yeah, I need to play better to allow me to play the right way, I think.”

Next stop for Murray will be two tournaments in Cologne, the week after the French Open, in the relatively luxury of indoor hard courts.

It is not going to be easy, but after what he has been through, Murray’s ready for more hard work.