Andy Murray has been knocked out of this year's US Open in straight sets, losing 4-6, 3-6, 2-6 to Stanislas Wawrinka.
It was a disappointingly one-sided match, with Murray being unable to find his best tennis against an opponent in inspired form. His return game, usually one of his main strengths, was lacking, and he was unable to create any break point opportunities. In contrast, the Swiss player's return game was clicking and he successfully attacked Murray's second serve throughout the match, putting the Scot on the defensive and out of position.
Although this was a well below-par performance from Murray, who seemed to struggle to hit through the breezy conditions, credit has to go to the Swiss for the level of tennis he brought to the match. His powerful groundstrokes were lethal on the backhand and especially the forehand side, consistently landing deep and close to the lines, pushing the world number 3 back.
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In the first set, as in the match as a whole, it was Wawrinka who was pushing Murray in many of his service games while holding with relative ease. The key moment came when Murray was serving to stay in the set at *4-5. Five set points came and went, with Murray digging deep to get himself out of trouble but still making uncharacteristic unforced errors, especially on the forehand side. At the final deuce, the world number 10 accelerated on a forehand into the corner, setting up his fifth set point. On the break point, Murray's serve down the middle was returned crosscourt to an excellent length and his forehand sailed long; his resistance was over and the set was Wawrinka's.
The Swiss kept up the pressure on Murray, threatening to break him in his first service game of the second set. Although the Brit held, the signs were ominous. Wawrinka kept up the aggressive play, pouncing on any short balls, pounding cross-court groundstrokes into the corners and transitioning effectively to the net.
In the fifth game, unforced errors again leaked into the world number 3's tennis and he was soon down 0-40. Wawrinka broke with a huge forehand return that set up a crisp backhand into the corner.
Murray managed to extend Wawrinka to 30-30 as he was serving out the second set, but the Swiss was playing with a huge level of self-belief and pounded down an unreturnable serve to take him to set point. Murray missed the return on the next point, a recurring theme of the day's tennis, and the Swiss had a two set lead.
Although the Brit held after being taken to deuce in the first game of the third set, he was broken in his next service game. In somewhat of a lucky moment for Wawrinka, he flirted with the netcord before the ball bobbled over on Murray's side; the Scot netted in reply, setting up another break point for the Swiss. Murray double-faulted, handing the break to Wawrinka.
With Murray serving at *2-4, more errors crept into his game when he least wanted them, and a searing passing shot by Wawrinka saw Murray go down a double break.
What little hope Murray had left was channelled into the last game. With Wawrinka serving for the match at *5-2, Murray managed to get to 0-30 after a double fault followed by a crunching return. But he wasn't able to take advantage, and Wawrinka sealed his win with an overhead winner.
Murray will hope to regroup from this defeat as quickly as possible. He will next be in action in the Davis Cup, where Great Britain take on Croatia in a world group play-off tie in Umag from 13-15 September.