Sep 5 2013
Andy Murray admitted he played a bad match as his US Open defence came to a sorry end with a straight-sets defeat by Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarter-finals.
The Scot usually manages to raise his game when he needs to but that was certainly not the case as he crashed out 6-4 6-3 6-2.
Wawrinka produced an inspired performance to hand Murray his worst grand slam defeat since losing to the Swiss in the third round in New York three years ago.
The statistics told the story of how outplayed Murray had been - the third seed not creating a single break point and winning just 54% of points on his first serve.
Wawrinka moves through to a first grand slam semi-final, which is likely to be a rematch with Novak Djokovic, who he pushed to 12-10 in the fifth set at the Australian Open this year.
Murray praised his opponent's display, saying: "I thought he played great. That was the hardest part of the match.
"The 5-4 game in the first set was an important game. I had a chance to close it out, he had quite a few chances. I made a few mistakes.
"But I didn't create a break point, so he served well. He hit a lot of lines, he was going for big shots, and he played too well."
Murray has been incredibly consistent in the slams, reaching the final at his last four tournaments and at least the semi-finals in nine out of the last 10.
But the 26-year-old had not found anything like his best form all tournament and against an opponent playing as well as Wawrinka that was simply not good enough.
Murray said: "When it's breezy conditions I think everyone takes a bit of time to feel comfortable on the court. But I don't think I was playing poorly (during the tournament). I got to the quarter-finals of a slam, which isn't easy.
"I would have liked to have played a little bit better but I have had a good run the last couple of years. It's a shame I had to play a bad match today."
It was always going to be a test for Murray to raise himself for another grand slam effort less than two months after the joy and release of pressure that came with becoming the first British man in 77 years to win the men's singles title at Wimbledon.
He hinted that was a factor, saying: "When you work hard for something for a lot of years, it's going to take a bit of time to really fire yourself up and get yourself training 110%.
"That's something that I think is kind of natural after what happened at Wimbledon. But I got here. I have been here nearly three weeks now.
"I practised a lot and played quite a lot of matches as well. So I gave myself a chance to do well because I prepared properly."
The Scot also implied the scheduling had not helped him.
He did not begin his campaign until the night session of the third day and alternated playing in the day and at night as well as moving across to Louis Armstrong for his second-round match against Leonardo Mayer.
Murray said: "I don't really want to get into that. You guys can see for yourself how the schedule worked out. When you play the first round over three days, it's tough."
Wawrinka went into the clash full of confidence. The Swiss is back in the top 10 for the first time in four years and playing the best tennis of his career.
The 28-year-old was also in a new position of being the last Swiss player left in the tournament following Roger Federer's demise, and he was relishing it.
Sir Sean Connery, who had watched Murray's semi-final victory over Berdych last year, was in the crowd again but he could not inspire his fellow Scot to victory this time.
In many ways the key game of the match came at 4-5 in the first set, when Murray saved five set points but not a sixth.
He was under pressure every time he served, his first serve lacking the potency it normally has, and Wawrinka broke again for 4-2 in the second set.
Murray has come back from two sets to love down seven times in his career but this never looked like being an eighth.
Wawrinka got better and better and he had an answer for everything.
Murray, who made twice as many unforced errors as winners, just could not find the level he needed and more breaks in the third and seventh games of the third set spelled curtains.