Andy Murray’s defence of his US Open crown ended in a straight sets defeat by Stanislas Wawrinka at Flushing Meadows tonight.
Though Wawrinka was the lower seed he was in control of the match from the start, playing phenomenal tennis and only getting better as the match went on.
In contrast, third seed Murray looked terribly out of sorts with none of his usual weapons working while he struggled with his accuracy in the swirling winds of Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Murray, considered one of the best returners on the tour could not manufacture a single break point in the match.
Wawrinka is in the best form of his career and had put in a brilliant display to beat fifth seed Tomas Berdych in four sets in the previous round.
While some doubted if the ninth seed from Switzerland could repeat his performance, if anything his play against Murray was even better, winning 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.
Considering his reputation for slow starts Murray began the match fairly well though he had to battle much harder than his opponent to hold serve, and neither man created break points.
However that all changed as Murray served to stay in the set at 4-5, in what turned out to be an epic game lasting over 14 minutes.
Being backed into a corner seemed to wake Murray up as he played some of his best tennis so far, saving five break points to keep the set alive.
However Murray could not finish off the game as he repeatedly followed good points with unforced errors and Wawrinka eventually took his sixth set point.
Murray had clearly been frustrated throughout the set, repeatedly motioning to smash his racket and when he lost the set he let that anger out, absolutely destroying his racket.
If optimists thought that outburst would mark a turning point in Murray’s play they were soon to be disappointed as he faced break points at 0-1 in the second set and then was broken to love at 2-3.
That broken service game summed up Murray’s match as a hat-trick of unforced errors, one each from forehand, volley and backhand, lead to 0-40 before Wawrinka hit a splendid winner.
Though Murray made the ninth seed serve out the set there were no signs of the kind of remarkable comeback that Murray performed both at Wimbledon in July and in his maiden Grand Slam title in New York last year.
While it was surprising to see how poorly Murray’s forehand and backhand was playing, his second serve is a known weakness and so it proved today as he watched 100mph returns fly by him off of 80 mph serves.
Murray just could not live with Wawrinka’s heavy hitting or deftness at the net and the man from Switzerland broke twice in the third set to wrap up the match in two hours and 15 minutes.
It was a poor performance from the British number one and he clearly wanted to escape Flushing Meadows after the match, heading straight to his press conference to get it out of the way as soon as possible.
But that should take nothing away from Wawrinka who was absolutely superb today.
If he can continue that form he should be more than a match for his semi-final opponent, which will be Novak Djokovic or Mikhail Youzhny.
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