NEW YORK — The earliest real signs of trouble for Andy Murray came in the 10th game of his U.S. Open quarterfinal. For 22 points stretched over 15 excruciating minutes Thursday, Murray’s body language was as poor as his play.
Trying to defend a Grand Slam title for the first time, and not quite two months removed from his historic Wimbledon championship, the Briton bowed out quickly, if not quietly, at Flushing Meadows, losing 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 to ninth-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland. The result was surprising both because of who won and by how much.
“I have had a good run the last couple of years,” said the third-seeded Murray, who shook his hands in front of his face and screamed after dropping the second set. “It’s a shame I had to play a bad match today.”
The first Grand Slam semifinal of Wawrinka’s career, in his 35th appearance, will come Saturday against No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the 2011 U.S. Open champion. The Serb overcame a third-set lull and beat 21st-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0 to reach the semifinals in New York for the seventh year in a row. It’s also the 14th consecutive Grand Slam tournament where Djokovic is in the semifinals, a 3½-year streak.
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The other semifinal is No. 2 Rafael Nadal of Spain against No. 8 Richard Gasquet of France.
Murray’s rough afternoon included only 15 winners, 30 fewer than Wawrinka. Murray tapped in second serves as slow as 75 mph, allowing Wawrinka to hit four return winners and easily take control of countless other points. Murray, one of the sport’s top returners, never earned a single break point during any of Wawrinka’s 14 service games.
“I didn’t get into enough return games, which is disappointing for me,” said Murray, who had won 30 of his preceding 32 Grand Slam matches. “That’s normally something I do pretty well. I always give myself opportunities to break serve, and I didn’t today.”
Give Wawrinka credit — something Murray made sure to do. At age 28, Wawrinka finally made it further at a major tournament than his Swiss Olympic teammate, Roger Federer, who lost in the fourth round and sent a congratulatory text to Wawrinka.
“Today, for sure, it’s my moment,” Wawrinka said.
In men’s doubles, Americans Bob and Mike Bryan were beaten 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 by the veteran team of Leander Paes of India and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic. The Bryans fell two matches short of sweeping the four Grand Slam tournaments in a calendar year for the first time since 1951.