Andy Murray’s title defence ends at hands of inspired Wawrinka
Swiss produces terrific performance to defeat number three seed 6-4 6-3 6-2
Andy Murray of Britain reacts after a missed point against Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland at the US Open championships in New York. Photograph: Reuters
Andy Murray’s US Open title defence came to an end in the quarter-finals with a straight-sets defeat by Stanislas Wawrinka at Flushing Meadows last night.
The Scot usually manages to raise his game when he needs to but that was certainly not the case on this occasion as he crashed out 6-4 6-3 6-2.
Wawrinka played an inspired match to hand Murray his worst Grand Slam defeat since losing to the Swiss in the third round in New York three years ago.
In front of the watching Sean Connery, ninth seed Wawrinka broke after a long and tense final game to clinch the first set 6-4.
Murray had not been entirely convincing in his first four matches, while Wawrinka went into the clash full of confidence after knocking out Tomas Berdych. The Swiss is back in the top 10 for the first time in four years and playing the best tennis of his career.
Murray had won eight of their previous 13 matches but Wawrinka is a player who has given him trouble, not least in their last meeting in New York three years ago. The Scot lost to Wawrinka in the third round on that occasion — the last time he has failed to reach the quarter-finals in a Grand Slam.
It was Wawrinka who had the first chance of the opening set when Murray netted a forehand to give up a set point at 4-5. He saved that one with a big serve but he was far from out of trouble. Murray saved four more set points but on the sixth chance he hit a forehand long and earned a code violation for smashing his racket on the court.
It was the second successive match in which he had dropped the opening set, but Wawrinka is a much tougher customer than Denis Istomin. The 28-year-old was in a new position of being the last Swiss player left in the tournament following Roger Federer’s demise, and he was relishing it.
Murray cracked again in the sixth game of the second set, three errors giving his opponent the chance to nail a backhand down the line and move into a 4-2 lead.
Murray at least made Wawrinka serve out the set and the Swiss looked a little nervy, but he clinched it 6-3 when the third seed put a return wide.
Murray has come back from two sets to love down seven times in his career but this did not look like being an eighth. Wawrinka had got better and better, allowing Murray very few free points on his serve.
It really was crisis point for Murray and try as hard as he might he just could not find the level of tennis he needed. He had made more than twice as many unforced errors as winners and it was virtually curtains when Wawrinka drilled another forehand winner to break again for 5-2.
That left the ninth seed serving for the match and a smash brought up a first match point, which he took when Murray netted a forehand.