NEW YORK—Andy Murray watched a 130 m.p.h. ace zoom by to create a two-set deficit at the U.S. Open, then sat in his change-over chair and cursed at himself over and over and over.
A little later, Murray cracked his racket against the court once, breaking the frame, and went to the sideline and mangled his equipment even more, before meandering over to hand it to someone in the stands.
Often able to spur himself by letting out some anger, the two-time Grand Slam title winner only briefly managed to get into this match.
The third-seeded Murray lost before the quarter-finals at a major for the first time since 2010, falling 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (0) to 15th-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa yesterday in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows.
“Disappointing to lose because of that,” Murray said about his earlier-than-usual exit.
“Obviously, that’s many years’ work that’s gone into building that sort of consistency.”
For the 6’8” Anderson, known mainly for a booming serve but terrific off the ground in this four-hour, 18-minute victory, it marked a real breakthrough.
He entered with an 0-7 record in fourth-round matches at majors, including when he had a two-set lead against Novak Djokovic before losing at Wimbledon two months ago.
This time, Anderson held it together—with the help of 25 aces and 81 total winners.
“I’m a little lost for words right now,” admitted Anderson, who next will face two-time major champion Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals.
“I just managed to keep my composure throughout.”
Murray had reached at least the quarters at his previous 18 Grand Slam tournaments—a streak that included championships at the U.S. Open in 2012 and Wimbledon in 2013, along with four runner-up finishes.
His last loss this soon also happened in New York, in the third round five years ago.
Roger Federer also pulled off a shutout in a tie-breaker yesterday, doing so in a 7-6 (0), 7-6 (6), 7-5 victory against big-serving No. 13 John Isner.
According to the ATP, Isner had never been beaten 7-0 in 428 previous official, tour-level tie-breakers.
With Isner gone, and 68th-ranked American Donald Young eliminated 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 by Wawrinka earlier yesterday, it’s the 16th Grand Slam tournament in a row with zero men from the U.S. in the quarter-finals.
Isner had his chances against Federer—six times standing two points from evening the match at a set apiece.
But Federer was masterful down the stretch in that tie-breaker, winning one point by returning a 140 m.p.h. serve before smacking a forehand passing winner.
Federer’s quarter-final opponent will be No. 12 Richard Gasquet, who got past No. 6 Tomas Berdych 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1.
Two women’s quarter-finals will be No. 2 Simona Halep against No. 20 Victoria Azarenka, and No. 5 Petra Kvitova against No. 26 Flavia Pennetta.