Andy Murray will not be adding a second U.S. Open championship to his mantle. The Brit suffered a 7-6, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6 defeat to Kevin Anderson at Flushing Meadows on Monday, removing one of the biggest contenders from the men's side.
Bleacher Report UK provided a look at the final tally:
The key for Anderson was his ability to control Murray at the net. Anderson consistently approached the middle and dictated the pace of the match, as Christopher Clarey of the New York Times highlighted:
Murray entered the U.S. Open with a solid track record in 2015. His four calendar-year titles put him on par with recent seasons, and he's performed well in high-profile tournaments. He made his fourth Australian Open final and got two wins in the Masters 1000 series—his first since 2013.
Murray has moved back up to No. 3 in the rankings, a three-spot jump from where he was at the beginning of the year. Still, the wins were juxtaposed by confusing losses, including a second-round exit at last month's Washington Open.
"I’ve worked extremely hard to get back to where I am," Murray said, per ATPWorldTour.com. "I had a lot of downs last year, a lot of test moments last year. But I came through that well and kept believing myself and got the right people around me to help me come through that. People that believed in me."
Since he won the 2012 U.S. Open, the year-end major has been his least successful. He has yet to advance beyond the quarterfinals in the tournament, while he's made it to at least the semis in the three other Grand Slams. Per ATPWorldTour.com, Murray spoke about his mindset coming into the tournament:
Probably in the last couple of years, I was coming in pretty stressed. I had problems with my back and was struggling to deal with that. I wasn’t enjoying the practising and preparation because I was in pain. I found it difficult. But now I feel healthier, I feel calmer, I feel more relaxed. That’s how I feel different.
The loss puts a sour note on his 2015 season, which will conclude without a Grand Slam title for the second straight year. Murray will have a chance to get back in the swing of things with this month's Davis Cup. He'll then close out the year in Shanghai and Paris before the ATP World Tour Finals.
Murray has never won the London-based event, which should give him something to strive for to close out 2015.
Looking forward, Murray has plenty of time to right his game before the ATP World Tour Finals and the 2016 Australian Open. Going Down Under has typically resulted in a strong start to the tennis season for Murray, who has made it to at least the quarterfinals every year since 2010. He's made a trip to the finals on four occasions, losing once to Roger Federer and three times to Novak Djokovic.
“I don’t think you can really quantify what that pressure does to someone,” Jim Courier told Australian television in February, per Christopher Clarey of the New York Times. “I think it’s really hard to understand unless you’ve been in that caldron. Murray is a guy who wears it on his sleeve. Some may love it. Some may hate it, but he lets you know what he’s feeling.”
Murray's propensity for outward displays of emotion has cost him in the past, but he's done a better job of controlling them as 2015 has continued. If he can continue working on them in the coming months, Murray may wind up pulling off an upset come 2016.