Andy Murray smashed a racket, slapped his forehead and crashed out of the U.S. Open in straight sets, ending his championship reign with a quarterfinal loss to ninth-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka.
Wawrinka hit three times as many winners as Murray and never faced a break point in a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 win yesterday that propelled him into his first Grand Slam semifinal and snapped the Briton’s run of four straight major tournament finals.
The reward for Wawrinka, who has toiled for years in the shadow of fellow Swiss Roger Federer, is a match against top-seeded Novak Djokovic, who reached his 14th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal by defeating Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny.
“For sure, it’s my moment and I’m enjoying it a lot,” Wawrinka, 28, told reporters after receiving a congratulatory text from Davis Cup teammate Federer, who has a men’s record 17 Grand Slam singles titles.
Murray, who was seeded third, defeated Djokovic in five sets in last year’s U.S. Open final, part of a 12-month span in which he also won an Olympic gold medal in London and became the first British man in 77 years to win the Wimbledon title.
Yesterday, on a wind-swept Arthur Ashe Stadium against Wawrinka, he looked more like the angst-ridden Murray of previous years -- before he broke through for his first major.
In the 57-minute first set, in which he saved five set points before losing his serve in the 22-point last game, Murray swatted at the court after missed shots and broke his racket by slamming it down after losing the set.
His coach, eight-time Grand Slam singles champion Ivan Lendl, showed little emotion in the players’ box. Actor Sean Connery sat in the crowd cheering on Murray, a fellow Scot.
It’s only the second time in his past 10 major tournaments that Murray, 26, failed to reach the semifinals. He was a finalist in his four previous Grand Slams, a run that began with 2012 Wimbledon. He missed this year’s French Open with a lower back injury.
“I lost today in straight sets, so that’s disappointing,” Murray said in a news conference. “But, look, I can’t complain. If someone told me before the U.S. Open last year I would have been here as defending champion having won Wimbledon and Olympic gold, I would have taken that 100 percent.”
Wawrinka hit 45 winners to Murray’s 15 and converted four of his 11 break-point chances at the National Tennis Center in New York. The two-hour, 15-minute loss was Murray’s first straight-set defeat at a Grand Slam since the 2011 French Open.
It was the first time in 35 career Grand Slam tournaments that Wawrinka has advanced further than Federer, who lost in the fourth round this week.
Djokovic, 26, a six-time major champion, advanced with a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0 defeat of 21st-seeded Youzhny, who was trying to reach his third U.S. Open semifinal in eight years.
Djokovic, from Serbia, had not lost a set in this U.S. Open until last night. Youzhny broke Djokovic’s serve twice, the first time that has happened in a match this tournament.
“I played really well, except that third set,” Djokovic said in a televised on-court interview.
Wawrinka pushed Djokovic to five sets in the fourth round of January’s Australian Open, falling 12-10 in the deciding set. Djokovic went on to win his third straight title in Melbourne.
Second seed Rafael Nadal of Spain and Richard Gasquet of France will meet in tomorrow’s other semifinal.
The women’s semifinals are set for today, with defending champion and top-seeded Serena Williams of the U.S. facing fifth-seeded Li Na of China, and No. 2 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus playing unseeded Italian Flavia Pennetta. Azarenka lost to Williams in last year’s final.
Williams then will join her sister, Venus Williams, in the semifinals of the women’s doubles. The Williams sisters have won 13 Grand Slam doubles championships together, including two U.S. Open titles.
Americans Mike and Bob Bryan lost their semifinal match yesterday, ending their bid for the first men’s doubles calendar-year Grand Slam in 62 years.
The Bryan brothers fell 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to Leander Paes of India and Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic. After a first set in which they hit 14 winners without an unforced error, the 35-year-old twins from California struggled to find their rhythm.
“Mother Tennis gives you some great moments and she gives you some tough pain,” Bob Bryan told reporters. “That’s the nature of our sport.”
The top-seeded Bryans were two wins away from their 16th Grand Slam championship and fifth at the U.S. Open. A title this week would have made them the first men’s duo to win all four Grand Slam tournaments -- Wimbledon and the Australian, French and U.S. opens -- in a calendar year since Australians Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman in 1951.
“I have tremendous respect for the Bryan boys,” Paes, 40, said in a televised interview after the match. “They’re great ambassadors for American tennis.”