Murray, from Dunblane, the winner of the US Open junior singles title last year, was hoping to take his place in the main event, which starts next Monday, alongside his compatriots Tim Henman, the 12th seed, and Greg Rusedski, the 28th seed. Having taken his first qualifying match against Dudi Sela, of Israel, 6-4, 6-4, on Wednesday evening, Murray needed two more wins to advance to the 128-strong main draw. He reached the third round on his Wimbledon debut after receiving a wild card.
His opponent in the second match last night was Paulo Lorenzi, of Italy, a 23-year-old from Rome ranked No 263 in the world and 16th in his own country.
Murray, the British No 3, ranked 122, prepared to raise his sights against the 6ft Lorenzi after monitoring the swift footwork of the diminutive Sela in the opening round.
It was encouraging for Murray that the shoulder of his serving arm, injured during his match against Marat Safin, the world No 5, at the Cincinnati Masters last week, did not trouble him. Nor was he unduly upset by a minor accident involving a New York taxi that was transporting him the previous evening.
Scheduled to play the fifth match on No 7 Court at Flushing Meadows, Murray walked out to play as the sun was setting. He began brightly, breaking Sela in the opening game, but the Israeli's net-rushing tactics caused Murray to make errors and lose his own serve in the sixth game.
Murray was unruffled, breaking for 5-4 and serving out the set in the next game. Sela's prospects of making a recovery seemed nil after Murray took a 4-1 lead in the second set, but the Israeli was able to win three more games before the Scotsman prevailed.
Two other Britons, Arvind Parmar and Jonny Marray, were also due in action again yesterday after winning their opening qualifying matches.
Henman, the British No 1, hopes a stomach injury will not be a factor in his campaign to repeat last year's advance to the US Open quarter-finals. "My stomach has responded well to rest over the weekend," he said. "I've got to be careful over the next few days not to overdo it."
Although the 30-year-old Henman will be playing Fernando Verdasco, of Spain, for the first time, he knows what to expect in their first-round match: "He's a great shot-maker and he can hit both his forehand and backhand very well. Over the years I've enjoyed a fair amount of success against left-handers, so hopefully that will continue."Reuse content