Somebody might want to put a missing persons alert out for Andy Murray. He was supposed to show up at the 2013 U.S. Open for his quarterfinal match with Stanislas Wawrinka.
Murray laid a major egg in his loss to Wawrinka in straight sets. He played some utterly dreadful tennis and looked nothing like the player who won this tournament one year ago. He was bounced by Wawrinka, who will go on to face Novak Djokovic in the semifinal.
That was just a little bit of the action on Thursday. Here's a quick rundown of the noteworthy matches and some of the biggest storylines.
Bryan Brothers Lose out on Grand Slam
One of the biggest stories out of Flushing Meadows was Bob and Mike Bryan losing in the semifinals to Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek. The defeat robbed the Bryan brothers of what could have been a historic Grand Slam.
According to Douglas Robson of USA Today, Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgeman are the only doubles team to have won the Grand Slam, doing so in 1962.
Things were looking good for the American duo after they won the first set, 6-3. Their opponents tried to get close, but the Bryans were able to close it out in short order, as noted by the U.S. Open Twitter account:
It was all downhill after that, as Paes and Stepanek won the next two sets, 6-3, 6-4:
Paes was the biggest difference-maker. Even at 40 years old, he was still capable of pulling off some magic at the net. Paes has built a reputation as a great doubles player, but to watch him turn back the clock on Thursday was truly something, even if it came at the cost of the Bryans' Grand Slam chances.
Stanislas Wawrinka Serves Andy Murray
Stanislas Wawrinka made his first Grand Slam semifinal after upsetting Andy Murray. While that was a bit surprising, the bigger shock came with how poorly Murray played.
According to the U.S. Open's official website, he had 30 unforced errors to just 15 winners. Murray was clearly not at his best, and as the match went into the third set, he slowly began melting down. This was after he smashed his racked at the conclusion of the first set:
At least he was able to keep the loss in stride (h/t Sports Illustrated's Beyond the Baseline):
Judy Murray, Andy's mother, also had nothing but praise for Wawrinka's performance:
Wawrinka was a bit more blunt in his reaction:
He was able to get a congratulatory text from his compatriot, Roger Federer (h/t Beyond the Baseline):
Normally such a great returner, Murray had no answer for Wawrinka's serve. The Swiss star won 88 percent (37-of-42) of his first-serve points and didn't even surrender a single break-point opportunity. Murray, on the other hand, only won 54 percent (37-of-69) of his first-serve points and surrendered 11 break-point chances, four of which were converted by Wawrinka.
Novak Djokovic Earns His Way into Semifinal
There has been something mechanical about the way in which Novak Djokovic has rampaged through the U.S. Open so far. Coming into Thursday night, he hadn't dropped a set and only lost a total of 22 games in his four wins.
In the first two sets of his quarterfinal match against Mikhail Youzhny, it was business as usual for the world's No. 1 player, as he won convincingly 6-3, 6-2. Despite it being a sold-out crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium, you could almost hear a pin drop in between points as Djokovic sucked the energy out of Flushing Meadows.
Even though he was completely outclassed to start the match, Youzhny never looked like he was ready to give up:
Then in the third set, the 31-year-old Russian came alive. He surged ahead, riding a wave created by a crowd that had been suddenly energized. Youzhny was able to take the third set 6-3 and do just enough to make you think that maybe he had a chance:
ESPNTennis made a note of how unlikely the third-set win was for the underdog:
Of course, Djokovic had to ruin it all by turning back into his usual consistent self. Youzhny had expended so much energy in the third set that he looked spent in the fourth. Djokovic got a quick break in the second game of the set and didn't look back from there.
For three of the four sets, the 26-year-old Serbian star was at his all-conquering best. If that Novak Djokovic continues throughout the rest of the tournament, there's no way he can be stopped.
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