In a neat piece of symmetry, Murray's last competitive match on clay also came against Wawrinka at this tournament in 2017, albeit at the semi-final stage.
Time has moved on considerably for both men, though Wawrinka has returned to the seeding positions of Grand Slams after injury woes of his own. Murray was out-of-sorts today and was dispatched with ease by his Swiss friend.
In the first set, Murray's first-serve percentage languished at 21%. That was clearly never going to be left unpunished by Wawrinka, who can blast an opponent off the court even when they are serving well.
The match was a one-sided encounter. No doubt fatigued after his marathon five-set win, Murray was overpowered by the Canadian's booming groundstrokes. The Brit struggled on return, failing to create a break point.
The first set was dominated by Auger-Aliassime after he secured a break in the second game, hitting 18 winners compared to one from Murray.
The former US Open champion's play improved in the second set, but Auger-Aliassime broke in the eighth game before closing out the set with an ace.
In the third set, the Canadian made a breakthrough in the fifth game, converting his fourth b...
Due to COVID-19 the US Open is being played in a "bubble", with no outside spectators allowed. This results in a decidedly flat atmosphere in the stadiums, where the main source of noise is the players themselves. Perhaps this contributed to Murray's early malaise. Perhaps it was the hot and humid conditions. Either way, the Brit was a shadow of his normal self for the first two sets.
Nishioka was playing well, but Murray almost seemed resigned to defeat from the outset. Five double faults and 30 unforced errors barely elicited a response at all, let alone the sort of fiery se...
The Scot could not find any sort of rhythm against Raonic, well-known for the strength of his service game. Indeed, the Canadian won nearly 90% of points on his first serve.
This was a weather-affected contest and a defeat that Murray took great displeasure from. After the match, Murray made his feelings known:
I don't know how much of it was due to the conditions at the beginning or if I was just a little bit slow. I don't know.
But I was really not happy with that at all. I have much higher standards than that. Not good enough tonight.
Wins earlier in the week over Frances Tiafoe a...
After ten months out due to injury and the global pandemic, it's hard to gauge Murray's form. On the evidence so far this week it's safe to say that he is at the very least a threat to the best players in the world.
Murray eased through the first set, chasing down drop shots and showing the sort of outrageous court coverage that has become his hallmark. His attacking game was in fine fettle as well, especially on the return of serve. Zverev's second delivery is fragile at best, and Murray capitalised, often meeting the return just feet from the service line.
Zverev steadied himself in the second set and suddenly Murray start...
This Masters 1000 tournament is traditionally played in the city of Cincinnati, Ohio. However, in another sign of the upside down world imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, the event is this year being held in New York - despite the courtside hoardings suggesting we are in Cincy as usual.
Happily for Murray and his fans, this Tour comeback was preceded by several exhibition tournaments so the Scot had had prior opportunities to sharpen his skills.
Tiafoe, aged 22 and ranked 81 as the Tour resumes, presented a decent test for Murray. The first set followed serve into a tiebreak as neither play could...