There was no hiding Andy Murray’s disappointment after his 7-6, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6 defeat here by Kevin Anderson in the fourth round of the US Open, but the world No 3 has little time to reflect on the end of a run during he had reached the quarter-finals in each of his previous 18 Grand Slam tournaments.
Britain’s Davis Cup semi-final against Australia begins in Glasgow in just nine days’ time and Murray knows this year could be an outstanding opportunity to secure the country’s first title since 1936.
Both teams named their squads on Tuesday, with Australia springing a surprise by omitting Nick Kyrgios, who will instead “focus on his personal and professional development”. Wally Masur, the captain, will look to Bernard Tomic and Thanasi Kokkinakis as his singles players, with Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Groth set to play doubles.
Leon Smith, Britain’s captain, kept his options open by naming Andy Murray, James Ward and Kyle Edmund plus the doubles specialists Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot, with one player to drop out before the first day. Ward or Edmund will fill the second singles berth behind Andy Murray, who hopes to play two singles and the doubles, as he did in the victory over France in the quarter-finals.
Murray has had a gruelling summer and some particularly tough matches here, culminating in a marathon battle with Anderson on another day of draining heat, but is ready to give everything for his country.
“Whatever the captain wants, I’ll do,” Murray said. “I know how difficult it was against France, playing all three days in a row after Wimbledon. At least now I have some extra days where I can actually take a proper break for three, four days and let myself rest and recover. I didn’t have that luxury after Wimbledon, when I finished on the Friday and was practising again on the Monday. Hopefully, I’ll be fine for the doubles and singles.”
Smith said: “If Andy comes in and feels that’s he definitely ready to do three matches, then it maybe opens the door to look at having three singles players and a doubles player over the weekend.
“The way Andy’s schedule looks for the rest of the year, he is putting Davis Cup high on the agenda. I think he’ll find a way to bring the necessary energy.”
Although Murray’s early exit gives him more time to recover, both the player and his captain were adamant that there were no positives to be drawn from his earliest defeat at a Grand Slam tournament since his loss to Stan Wawrinka in the third round here five years ago. That defeat, like Monday’s, came in Louis Armstrong Stadium, which is the second show court here. The court is tighter than Arthur Ashe Stadium and Murray reckons the playing surface is quicker.
“Andy likes a bit more room around the court to use his defensive skills against the big servers,” Smith said yesterday. “Kevin played very well. He put Andy under a lot of pressure. There’s obviously a bit of fatigue from the length of the matches and the amount of court time he came in with before that match.
“When Kevin got that two-sets lead, it was going to be tough because of the sort of form that he’s in and the way that he plays. He doesn’t really dip. He just keeps a certain level.”
Murray regretted going a double break down in the second set, at the end of which he started playing better, but too late to turn the match around. As usual he gave his all, but Anderson, who had lost on all seven of his previous appearances in the fourth round of Grand Slam tournaments, played what he later described as the match of his life.
The Scot smashed a racket in anger and there were several occasions when he screamed out in frustration. He did much of his ranting in the general direction of his entourage, who sat with Smith and the former Chelsea footballer Frank Lampard, who now plays for New York City, and his fiancée, Christine Bleakley.
“He’s a winner who hates losing and he thinks he should have beaten Kevin Anderson as he has a good record against him,” Smith said when asked about Murray’s outbursts. “It was frustration and a bit of tiredness. When you’re fighting like hell it just comes out.
“That’s just him. None of the box take it personally. Everyone knows that’s just the way Andy expresses himself on the court. It’s very clear that no matter what is said, it is done and dusted on the court and it stays there. That’s just the way he is. It makes him what he is as well – a fighter.”
For Murray it was an exhausting end to what had been a gruelling tournament. “It was four hours and 15 minutes,” he said of his final match. “I’m not a machine. My body hurts. I was just trying to fight my way right through to the end and make it as difficult for him as possible.”