Andy Murray’s US Open dream dies as he appears to suggest – ‘I am done’
When Andy Murray reflects on his latest aborted attempt to make it through to the second week at a Grand Slam event, he can only come to one conclusion.
Unless your name is Novak Djokovic or Carlos Alcaraz, defeat is a reality all tennis players get used to and yet it was the manner of this 6-3 6-4 6-1 defeat that will leave huge questions over what comes next for three-time Grand Slam champion Murray.
While Murray battled hard in the first two sets, the sight of the 2012 US Open champion throwing in the towel mid-way through the third set was alarming to see.
“I’m very happy with the performance today. I was expecting, honestly, five sets,” said Dimitrov.
“I was trying to constantly remind myself I was here for the long haul.
“I’ve played Andy multiple times. He’s a tremendous competitor, an amazing guy as well.”
Murray used to beat Dimitrov playing a brand of big-hitting and inventive tennis that was too much for most in the game to handle, yet he no longer appears to be able to deliver that level of excellence.
With Murray’s former coach Dani Vallverdu now working with Dimitrov, the duo devised a highly effective gameplan focused on firing low backhand slices and taking all the pace away from his rival and on this occasion, one of the greatest battlers in tennis simply had no answer.
Dimitrov’s plan to chip balls into Murray’s forehand at every opportunity produced worryingly impressive results for fans of the Brit, with his inability to generate pace on his ground shots a recurring theme since his comeback from hip surgery in 2019.
Murray’s greatest moments came as he beat the game’s greatest players in brutal baseline rallies, with his fearsome backhand possessing a sting that won his points in outrageous fashion.
With his metal hip now in place, Murray seems to lack the punch he once had on that side and taking that weapon away gives his opponents a big target to aim at.
The tactically astute Vallverdu was fully aware of Murray’s weakness on that side and Dimitrov executed the gameplan in clinical fashion.
“Disappointing. First and foremost for him, and for us because we all wanted to follow him on a great run,” said former British No 1 Tim Henman, as he reflected on Murray’s exit on Sky Sports.
“A massive amount of credit goes to Grigor. He came out with a specific game plan, using the sliced backhand a lot and giving Murray no pace to work with.”
Henman and the British media pack will never suggest Murray should call time on his career, as a sportsman who may be the greatest Britain has ever produced has earned the right to decide when to call time on his tennis story.
Yet after his acute disappointment in losing against Stefanos Tsitsipas at Wimbledon last month, another second round exit at the US Open felt like a moment that might just tip Murray over the edge.
He was gesturing to his box and appeared to mouth “I am done” as this latest defeat become inevitable and it was hard to argue with that self-assessment from the 36-year-old Scot.
After this match ended with a Murray double fault, he trudged off to the locker room to ponder whether he still needs or wants this kind of agony in his life.
Murray may well finish his career at Wimbledon next summer, where he would be given a send-off befitting a champion who has helped to promote the game in Britain game like few before him.
Yet reality bites for the greatest of champions and maybe Murray suggesting he was done in this match suggests he now knows his time is up.
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