US Open - Murray out, but not down after losing slugfest

Andy Murray went out of the US Open with his head held high after a spiriting performance which showed his true class.

Reuters

Djokovic beats Murray in New York

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WHAT HAPPENED

For two sets, Andy Murray went toe-to-toe with world number one Novak Djokovic and battled him to a standstill at the US Open.

In the end, the Scotsman's body betrayed him and he was eliminated 7-6 (1) 6-7 (1) 6-2 6-4 in a three hour 32 minute quarter-final that gave him some optimism going forward.

After giving as good as he got over the first two sets, Murray began to wear down late in the third. He walked gingerly, leaned on his racket like a cane, and picked his spots to cut loose on his groundstrokes.

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Andy Murray of Britain reacts to missing a point during his quarter-final men's single match against Novak Djokovic …

Before the stiffness set in, Murray was ripping forehands with sizzling gusto and seizing the moment to unleash winners.

Murray has yet to win a title since last year's Wimbledon and his subsequent back surgery - but on Arthur Ashe Stadium there were glimpses of his true power in a performance that will give him huge confidence for 2015.

[DJOKOVIC DOWNS MURRAY TO REACH LAST FOUR]

WHAT MURRAY SAID

"I played well," he told reporters. "Especially the first couple of sets was some good tennis.

"I was down in the first set and I fought back. I was down in the second set and a break and I fought back. So I fought hard.

"I played some good tennis. But it wasn't enough. Right now I'm obviously disappointed. It's extremely late. I'm tired. I don't feel particularly proud right now. I feel disappointed.

"But I think there was some good tennis. Hopefully I can build on that. I got stiff in my hips and my back towards the end of the third set. I didn't hurt anything. It was just I think fatigue and I stiffened up."

Murray said playing against his old friend and rival Djokovic was a good measuring stick.

"Maybe, I haven't played enough matches at that level this year," the eighth seed added.

"I mean, it's obviously different playing against the number one in the world, and the way that we play against each other, it's just an extremely physical match.

"Whereas, maybe when I play against Roger (Federer), for example, it's quicker points. So physically, that's not as demanding. But when me and Novak play against each other - you obviously see very tight, long rallies.

"Both of us do a lot of running. Maybe I'll gain a lot from playing a match like today. Because it doesn't matter how much training you do, when you get on the match court it's different. I can't practice with the best player in the world, so it's tough to practice at that intensity."

OUR VIEW

Looking purely at results, 2014 appears to be a serious year of decline for Murray - particularly after the highs of 2012 and 2013, which saw his historic wins at the Olympics, US Open and Wimbledo. But context is everything: Murray has been easing his way back to full physical prowess after a serious back operation in September 2013, and is also coming to grips with the methods of a new coach, Amelie Mauresmo. Furthermore, a record of three quarter-finals and a semi-final in the four Grand Slams is not a bad return - in fact, it is a measure of Murray's extremely high standards that he may feel disappointed. As Murray intimated, a match against Djokovic will have stretched the Scot to his phyiscal limits, and this match marks one of Murray’s best performances this year. 2015 should see Murray back to his best…

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Amelie Mauresmo the coach of Andy Murray (GBR) in attendance at the match against Novak Djokovic (SRB) on day ten …

WHAT THE MEDIA SAID

Kevin Mitchell (Gaurdian): Separated by seven days of life on the planet, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic for much of last night’s quarter-final resided in their own world, and it was the Serb who prevailed in a fight nearly as intense as their final on the same court two years ago. Both squandered chances and rescued lost causes throughout the three hours and 32 minutes they held a Murray-friendly house enthralled on Arthur Ashe court, which takes on the appearance and feel of a bear pit in matches such as this one. But the world No 1, who has been in splendid form all tournament, after a brief dip in form and spirits after winning Wimbledon, deserved his win. He fought hard through some rough patches and found a little extra at the finish, when Murray began to tire.

Russell Fuller (BBC): Murray has provided the most compelling evidence of the year here in New York that 2015 should have much to offer, but Djokovic remains out of reach for now. Murray matched the world number one throughout the first two sets, but Djokovic was the stronger physically, and both Murray's serve and his speed around the court dropped noticeably as the match moved into a fourth set. Qualifying for the end-of-season World Tour Finals didn't seem to be an immediate priority amid the disappointment of defeat, but Murray does have three more tournaments to clinch one of the eight qualifying spots and earn the chance to end the season on a high.

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