Andy Murray suffered a gruelling defeat to the big-htting Matteo Berrettini at the US Open. And despite battling till the end on the 10th anniversary of his first Grand Slam win here., the four-set loss means the Scot to beat a top-20 player in a Grand Slam with a metal hip.
The Scot, 35, showed his frustration by throwing and then smashing his racquet in frustration at the end of the second set. He bravely saved eight points before taking the third set before going down in three hours and 47 minutes.
Last year’s Wimbledon finalist won 6-4 6-4 7-6 6-3 to reach the fourth round in pursuit of his first Grand Slam title. Despite missing Wimbledon this year with Covid, the 26-year-old Italian was ultimately too strong and too powerful for the three-time Major winner.
His lethal combination of his huge serve, backhand slice and fierce forehand was too hot for Murray to handle under the midday sun in the Arthur Ashe Stadium. The Italian powered down 69% of first serves and for his third consecutive win over Murray
By contrast, despite claiming he is the fittest he has felt in years following two hip surgeries, the Scot made only 53% of first serves and was broken five times. He has yet to beat a top-20 player in a Grand Slam with a metal hip with defeats against Stan Wawrinka (2020 French Open), Denis Shapovalov (2021 Wimbledon) and Stefanos Tsitsipas (2021 US Open).
Four British players had made it through to the third round of the US Open for the first time ever in the Open era. And Murray had reached this stage for the time at an overseas Slam for the first time since the 2017 French Open when he was still world No.1.
Murray got away with a lucky shanked volley at 3-3 in the first set but still suffered the first break of the match when he doubled faulted. The Scot was broken in the first game of the second set after another double fault before the No.13 seed put away an overhead.
But the world No.51 immediately broke back for the first in the match as he switched his return position to 10-15 feet behind the baseline, almost touching the backwall. This time in the seventh game Murray held after an incredible rally where he retrieved a deep ball in his forehand corner with a squash-style slice – and then raced the put away a drop shot with a backhand winner. He continued to run past the umpire’s chair and gave a double fist pump in front of the crowd.
But he was broken in his next service game after another double fault on the second break point – and took his frustration out on his racquet as he walked back to his chair. He sought advice from his coach Ivan Lendl before the next game – this is now allowed at the US Open – but he still sent a backhand long on the second set point.
Murray has come back 10 times from two sets down in Majors, including four times here. But not this time. He had to save five break points in his first three service games in the third set, including one after a five-minute pause after a spectator was taken ill.
The Scot had a rare opening in a Berrettini service game at 3-4 15-30 but slapped a backhand into the net. He looked up to the sky in frustration and said: “It doesn’t need to be that good”. His volatile mood did not improve when he then put a forehand wide and into the net on the next two points.
At 5-5, Murray saved his seventh and eight break points of the set and his fist pumping continued as he returned to his chair. Berrettini took the first point of the tiebreak with an outrageous forehand winner down the line but Murary took the next seven to take the match to a fourth set. After swapping early breaks, the Scot had a break point at 3-3 but was broken to trail 5-3 and Berrettini took his first match point with another massive first serve.
Berrettini, who was forced to pull out of Wimbledon after testing positive for Covid, said: “I wasn’t aggressive enough on the break points but that is tennis. Andy played really well. I knew I would have some more chances in the fourth set and I had them and I took them. I tell myself all the time it is ok to get tight. It shows you care. It is our lives”.