Andy Murray crashes out of the US Open third round – as former champion loses in four sets to No 13 seed Matteo Berrettini
- Andy Murray suffered defeat to Matteo Berrettini in the third round on Friday
- The Brit had built momentum after beating Francisco Cerundolo and Emilio Nava
- But Berrettini surpassed the 35-year-old in four sets to reach the fourth round
- The clash was suspended in the third set due to a medical concern in the crowd
Andy Murray was bombed out of Wimbledon — and the same thing happened at the US Open on Friday night when he was ousted by the power of big Italian Matteo Berrettini.
The 35 year-old Scot went down 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 in three hours and 47 minutes, despite forcing an opening that might have taken the match into a decider.
Giant American John Isner did for him in SW19, meaning Murray is still unable to make the second week of a Grand Slam, something he has not achieved since the summer of 2017.
Andy Murray suffered a third round defeat to Matteo Berrettini, crashing out of the US Open
You wonder what damage Berrettini could have done at Wimbledon, had it not been for the untimely dose of Covid that hit him just before the tournament.
There was a time when Murray was never better than when facing a tall, big server, but as also seen at the All England Club he is less reliable these days against such opponents.
Berrettini is a more accomplished all-round player than Isner — his use of a delicate sliced backhand for example — and Murray struggled to defuse the power coming at him as he once might.
The Italian beat the 35-year-old in four sets to win 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 at Flushing Meadows
The Scot’s next appointment is the Davis Cup qualifying group in Glasgow in the middle of the month. As Dan Evans remarked, you would be a brave man not to pick him in Glasgow, but he still cannot be guaranteed a singles or doubles slot.
After that he is in the Europe team to face the World team at the Laver Cup at London’s 02 Arena, picked ahead of Berrettini, among others.
It has to be said that, on overall form this season, he is the kind of bums-on-seats selection that has been seen in that format, but it still reduces its credibility alongside a comparable event such as the Ryder Cup.
Yet there was still evidence of his formidable fighting spirit as he barked up at his support box, straining everything in the effort not to yield.
Murray’s woes since he won the title at Flushing Meadows 10 years ago are well-established and make those which have afflicted Berrettini in 2022 seem mere trivialities by comparison.
The Brit struggled to break Berrettini’s serve with only four break points throughout the match
The Italian has missed a lot of tennis through a hand injury and the virus, but that seems to have spring-loaded him at a time of year when some are starting to feel the effects of a hard season.
Murray knew his returning skills would be tested to their limit and, even though he was standing almost with his back to the fence, he still had three aces pumped past him in the opening game.
There were nine in all from the Italian, who can still claim to be the biggest one-two merchant on the tour with his combination of giant serve followed up by a huge forehand.
The match was briefly halted during the third set due to a medical emergency in the crowd
The Scot’s serve was contrastingly off colour early on and he double faulted to cede the first break at 3-3.
The years of struggle and problems with his body have definitely eroded Murray’s granite temperament on the most important points and this was another example.
So was the crucial break of serve in what was a second set of outstanding quality.
Murray had competed superbly and sprinted around the court like a gazelle, as if his hip was in the same state as when he won his three Majors.
Berrettini landed 18 aces during the match but only managed to take five of 15 break points
There is no doubt that he is covering the corners of the court better than he has done for the past five years, even if the mental resolve is not quite the same as at his peak.
That reality was seen again at 4-4 in the second set when he double faulted again when faced with a break point challenge from the Italian.
The Scot was so furious with himself that he flung his racket from the baseline back to his chair and then proceeded to thrash it repeatedly into his kitbag.
Defeat seemed imminent as the third set went on and Murray came within two points of being manhandled out of the tournament.
But an uplift in his serving saw him force a tiebreak and when it came the Italian’s fearsome forehand transformed into a gift that kept on giving. Without warning it fell apart and the Scot reeled off seven straight points to take the breaker 7-1 after a set that lasted a sapping 82 minutes.
A win would have handed Murray his first fourth round at a grand slam singles event since 2017
When Murray began the fourth by breaking — following the almost inevitable toilet break — he had all the momentum, only to hand it back with a poor service game. The crowd was loving it on what was unofficially Brit afternoon at Flushing Meadows, with Jack Draper competing across the site on the sprawling new Grandstand court.
A break point was forced at 3-3 but he could not execute a forehand, sparking another volley towards his corner where coach Ivan Lendl sat, expressionless as usual.
As so often happens, the miss of an opportunity can have the opposite effect on players.
Murray threw in a loose game against a suddenly surging opponent and when a netted backhand sealed the break the Italian was able to serve for the match.
Berrettini made no mistake and when a final swinging serve went unanswered, the Scot was left with an even longer wait for that breakthrough he so craves.
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