Andy Murray proud despite US Open loss to Matteo Berrettini

·4-min read

Andy Murray was proud of his efforts in defeat by Matteo Berrettini at the US Open but disappointed at another early end to a grand slam campaign.

Murray was trying to reach the last 16 at a slam for the first time since his hip problems began in 2017 but, after threatening another vintage comeback, he fell to a 6-4 6-4 6-7 (1) 6-3 defeat on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The Scot said: “It’s really difficult. I’m surprised I’m still able to compete with guys that are right up at the top of the game.

“Matches like this, I’m really proud that I have worked myself into a position where I’m able to do that. I’m really disappointed that I didn’t get over the line today.

“But I get reminded, ‘this is the first time you’ve made the third round here since 2016’. It’s been a difficult six years for me. It’s been really hard.

“Although I’ve only made the third round here, I’m really proud of that effort that I put in to get myself back into these positions. I’m hoping that in the future I can go further but, considering, I did all right.”

This was a real step up from Murray’s first two matches. Berrettini has had injury and illness problems himself this year but is a proven performer at the slams in particular.

He has made at least the quarter-finals at the last four major tournaments he has played, although he missed the French Open this year following hand surgery and then Wimbledon, where he reached the final last summer, after an ill-timed bout of Covid-19.

Andy Murray strikes a forehand
Andy Murray strikes a forehand (Seth Wenig/AP)

There was little to choose between the pair in the opening two sets but two double faults from Murray on break points proved decisive, with the former champion flinging his racket away in disgust after the second break at 4-4 in the second set.

The 35-year-old had not fought back from two sets down to win a match since a clash with Yoshihito Nishioka here two years ago, which he admitted this week took him months to recover from.

He dug in admirably in the third, saving five break points in his first three service games, and a pumped-up Murray yelled in delight when he withstood more pressure to hold for 6-5.

He got his reward for that tenacity in the tie-break, with Berrettini choosing a bad moment to play his worst tennis of the match, losing seven points in a row.

The comeback really appeared to be on when Murray broke the powerful Berrettini serve in the opening game of the fourth set but the Italian hit back straight away and another lapse from his opponent at 3-4 was the final nail.

Murray said: “I served pretty poorly for a large part of the match, which hurt me a lot. I just couldn’t find any rhythm on serve.

“I hung in really well in the third set and you could see from the stats that, when I was getting into rallies, I was getting comfortably the better of those exchanges when I got past the first few shots.

“He served extremely well, got loads of free points on his serve. I didn’t. That was the difference.”

Murray will head home before turning his attention to Britain’s attempt to qualify for the Davis Cup quarter-finals in Glasgow later this month and then the Laver Cup in London.

He remains positive, saying: “I’m improving this year. I want to push and see how far I can go.

“That will be motivational for me and interesting to see, because lots of people told me I wouldn’t be able to play again, and lots of people told me I’d be able to hit tennis balls but not compete professionally again. That was nonsense, and I want to see how close I can get back to the top of the game.

“We’ve got a couple of fun team events to look forward to now in the next few weeks, which can help after a loss like today, being around friends and the team environment, so I look forward to that. And then hopefully I continue to play better through to the end of the season.”