Not surprising perhaps, but Andy Murray, after playing for nearly five hours two days ago, didn’t have the legs to overcome a young buck still full of youthful exuberance.
I felt like I played some good stuff at times, but it was quite up and down. I would like to play consistently better tennis. If you aren’t playing at a high level consistently, then you will play longer matches because you’re having dips. Andy Murray
The 33-year-old three-time grand slam champion, giving away 9-years to Felix Auger-Aliassime, went down 6-2 6-3 6-4 in the second round of the US Open, but has proved that even with a resurfaced hip, he can compete with the best. He now just needs to get his body match fit and fully regain strength in his legs, but readily admits he has a long way to go.
“The more tournaments that you play, the more matches that you play, you build up that sort of robustness in your body which right now I don’t really have,” Murray, the 2012 US champion, said.
“So that’s something that I’ll need to build up over the next few months and hopefully beginning of next year if I can stay healthy, I will be better able to back up difficult physical efforts.”
The Scot, who had arrived for the US Open warm-up Western and Southern Open event, where he reached the third round with wins over Frances Tiafoe and Alexander Zverev before losing to Milos Raonic, had not played a professional match since the Davis Cup Finals in November.
“I felt like I played some good stuff at times, but it was quite up and down. I would like to play consistently better tennis,” he continued.
“If you aren’t playing at a high level consistently, then you will play longer matches because you’re having dips.”
As to whether he will win another Grand Slam, he accepted it would be “extremely difficult”.
“It was hard enough when I had two normal hips. So it will be difficult, but I’ll keep trying, like, why not? Why shouldn’t I try my hardest to do that?
“And if I don’t, that’s all right. But I might as well shoot for the stars.”
The young Canadian was never troubled on his serve, smashing down 24 aces to romp into the third round after two hours and nine-minutes of match play.
As one of the future stars of the game, the lithe and athletic Auger-Aliassime seeded 15, produced a more than confident performance as he dismantled the player who he had watched as an 11-year-old play on that same court defeating Feliciano Lopez – a performance which in turn had inspired him to take up the game.
“It’s an amazing feeling. I wish the fans were here but, it’s funny, life is funny because I came here in 2011, I got tickets for a match and I watched Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez playing third round here. So it’s crazy that nine years later I’m here playing him and getting a win.”
Auger-Alliasime won’t know who he will face next and it could well be another Brit. Dan Evans the current national No.1 seeded 23, had his second round match out on Court 5 with another exciting young prospect, Corentin Moutet, suspended by rain when critically poised in favour of the Frenchman 4-6 6-3 6-5.
Milos Raonic, the 25th seed, found himself embroiled in an all-Canadian affair with his friend Vasek Pospisil – currently better known for launching with Novak Djokovic the PTPA last weekend – who outlasted him 6-7(1) 6-3 7-6(4) 6-3 out on the Louis Armstrong Stadium court.
Despite blasting 29 aces to his opponents 20, Raonic handed him 11 free points with double faults to Pospisil’s five.
Pospisil also saved all five of the break points he faced and recorded the only two service breaks of the match in the second and fourth sets. The latter break providing him with the opportunity to serve out for the victory.
“To play a Canadian obviously is always tricky, right?” Pospisil said. “I mean, especially someone like Milos who I’ve known for basically my whole tennis career. We grew up together, we were the top two in Canada for our same age group. We’re the same age, so obviously we have a bit of a history, for sure.”
Raonic said, “I knew he’s got a good level in him and that he’s been playing well and he’s probably been feeling good about his tennis. Yeah, I guess the toughest thing today was whenever I sort of tried to create an opening, he really stepped up and served really well.”
Grigor Dimitrov, the Bulgarian 14th seed, was the only other seeded player to go out in round two. He lost to the Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 6-7(5) 7-6(4) 3-6 6-4 6-1 and goes on to face Frances Tiafoe.
Meanwhile the second seed, Dominic Thiem celebrated his 27th birthday with a resounding 6-3 6-3 6-2 win over the Indian No. 1 Sumit Nagal.
“I was playing well today,” said Thiem. “I had a good plan for the match. He’s very dangerous when he can dictate with his forehand. I was exactly trying to avoid that.
“He also has very, very fast legs… I was trying to play my fastest tennis to keep him on the backhand, to not let him dictate with the forehand. I did that very well today.
“I think the only bad game he played was at 4-3 to me, in the first set, where he kind of came back into the match after he broke me, then he did some unforced errors.
“Besides that, I think it was a good match on a quite good level. I’m happy to be through in straight sets.”
In other matches the Russian seeds all advanced, Karen Khachanov over compatriot Andrey Kuznetsov 6-3 6-4 6-1, Andrey Rublev defeated Gregoire Barrere 6-2 6-4 7-6(4) while Daniil Medvedev took out Christopher O’Connell 6-3 6-2 6-4.
Medvedev, the 2019 finalist, now meets young American 21-year-old Jeffrey Wolf while Khachanov will have a big test against Alex De Minaur.
“The biggest positive is that I won in three sets. Late match, so I didn’t want to finish too late,” Medvedev said. “Great level, he’s not an easy opponent… I’m happy with my performance to go through.”
Eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain was pushed to four sets by Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic before prevailing 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4 while Matteo Berrettini, seeded 6, dispatched Ugo Humbert 6-4 6-4 7-6(6).
Also through are Casper Ruud of Norway, seeded 30 and former US Open champion Marin Cilic the 31st seed.