US Open 2021: Andy Murray loses to Stefanos Tsitsipas, Dan Evans by means of, Heather Watson & Harriet Dart
Murray, now number 112 in the world, wanted to become the lowest man who can beat a top-3 opponent in US Open history
|Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Date: 30 August-12 September|
|Cover: Daily radio commentary on the website and app of BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra / BBC Sport with selected live text commentary and match reports on the website and in the app|
Andy Murray delivered his best performance in four years with injuries, but was painfully missing the Greek world number three Stefanos Tsitsipas in an exciting start to the US Open.
The British ex-world number one played in a manner reminiscent of his best as he led to one in two straight sets.
But Tsitsipas fought his way back and won 2-6 7-6 (9-7) 3-6 6-3 6-4 in New York.
Dan Evans is the only Brit after losing to Heather Watson, Harriet Dart and Cameron Norrie.
Johanna Konta withdrew from their first round game with a hamstring injury meaning teenagers Emma Raducanu and Katie Boulter – who both play Tuesday – are the nation’s last hopes in women’s singles.
As so often in the past, Murray was the British player who stole the most attention on the opening day of the last Grand Slam of the 2021 season – even if he lost.
The Scot, now ranked 112th in the world, was aiming for his biggest win in the rankings since his career was derailed by a serious hip injury that left him before retirement.
The 34-year-old Murray was consistently cheered and enjoyed the size of the occasion, moving around freely and hurting Tsitsipas with his quality all over the place.
Seismic shock beckoned before 23-year-old Tsitsipas – one of the favorites for the men’s singles title – kept his focus and waited his time to win in four hours and 49 minutes.
“Turning the game around was not easy, I had to make a lot of sacrifices,” said Tsitsipas.
After being irritated by the Greek’s eight-minute toilet break before the crucial sentence, Murray exchanged a tight handshake with his opponent before continuing to mutter out loud “It’s a joke” while collecting his things.
Even the loving and rousing reception that accompanied the 2012 champion off the field could not hide his anger.
Murray reminds us why he will never give up
Murray has managed to defy the odds several times in recent years, but beating an opponent of Tsitsipas by five sets in a Grand Slam would have been a new benchmark.
No injuries since major hip surgery have continued to hamper his progress. Having played just 12 games that year, doubts remained about the Scot’s chances of ever competing with the best in the world again.
While Murray arrived in New York and spoke positively about his physical condition, Murray said it was his game that needed to be “in a better place”.
It certainly was against Tsitsipas. At a level that has rarely been seen, if at all, since Murray first developed the hip problem at the 2017 French Open.
Playing with freedom of movement and a lot of strength, Murray deducted numerous mistakes from Tsitsipas as he dominated the first set and then threatened to take a two-set lead.
Murray’s dissatisfaction with Tsitsipas was evident in her handshake after the game
A clever praise from Murray – a typical backhand, reminiscent of the one with which he won the 2015 Davis Cup final for Great Britain – put him 5-3 in the tiebreaker in the second set before a slip on one Patch his own sweat may have bizarre contributed to taking him two sets ahead.
Soaked from head to toe in the damp New York conditions, Murray was irritated by his soaked footwear and, after seeing two setpoints slip away, produced a double mistake that helped Tsitsipas to the level.
Oddly enough, Murray didn’t have another pair of trainers with him – that is, he even tried to dry his soaked ones with the air conditioner next to his chair.
A two-set lead could have been too big a deficit for Tsitsipas to turn around, despite Murray being back in the lead after regaining his focus as temperatures plummeted.
After so few games in 2021, his level understandably plummeted at the start of the fourth as Tsitsipas raced 5-0 ahead before making sure the game would go to a decisive round.
It got even more dramatic when Tsitsipas spent nearly eight minutes off the pitch before the fifth set, furious and instantly leaving Murray with a collapse from which he could no longer recover.
“It has never taken me so long to go to the bathroom,” complained Murray to US Open game director Gerry Armstrong.
Evans comes through under “brutal” New York conditions
Dan Evans has already reached the third round of the US Open three times but has never progressed
Seeded 24th, Evans appeared to be struggling physically before beating Brazilian Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-7 (6-8) 6-4 6-1.
The 31-year-old was the first British player on the pitch and made sure he got off to a positive start in the nation’s individual challenge.
After Evans missed the Olympics because he contracted Covid-19, Evans had lost four of his five games since Wimbledon and appeared to be on the wane as Monteiro all hit a set.
In the second set Evans needed ice packs and was treated on the foot after winning the third set.
Former British number one Tim Henman, who worked as a television commentator for Flushing Meadows, described playing in the heat and humidity as “brutal”.
But Evans dug deep physically and raced 4-0 in the fourth set before completing the win.
The Briton meets the American world number 64 Marcos Giron in the second round.
Watson, Dart & Norrie go out
Watson, 29, was beaten 6: 1 6: 4 by the Slovenian Kaja Juvan, while the qualifier Dart lost 6: 7 (6: 8) 6: 4 6: 2 to the French Caroline Garcia.
Watson, who is set to become the top ranked British player after the withdrawal from Konta, has now lost all 10 of her first round matches in New York.
The 25-year-old darts played superbly in the first set but was followed by a break in the second set when she had to leave for further treatment due to an apparent injury to her left leg.
After a long delay, she could no longer gain the upper hand against the former number four in the world, Garcia, and missed a place in the round of 16 for the first time.
Norrie had reached the third round in the last four Grand Slams, but the 26th seed also lost to crown a largely miserable day for the British contingent.
The 18-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz – the youngest player in the men’s top 100 – showed why he is rated so highly with a 6-4 6-4 6-3 win over Norrie.