NEW YORK — Matteo Berrettini brought an end to Andy Murray’s run at the US Open as he won in four sets in their third round clash on Arthur Ashe on Friday.
On a boiling hot day on Arthur Ashe, Berrettini’s pinpoint serve and deft drop shots saw the Italian through 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-3 in 3hr 47 minutes. The defeat ended Murray’s hopes of making the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time since Wimbledon 2017.
“I served pretty poorly for a large part of the match, which hurt me a lot,” Murray said. “I hung in really well in the third set, and, you know, could see from the stats and stuff that were coming up that when I was getting into rallies I was getting comfortably the better of those exchanges when, you know, I got past the first few shots.”He served extremely well, got loads of free points on his serve. Je n’ai pas. That was the difference.”
Murray headed into this match off the back of opening wins against Francisco Cerundolo and Emilio Nava, while Berrettini had defeated Nicolas Jarry in straight sets and needed four to get past Hugo Grenier.
But in the New York midday sun, it was Berrettini who secured the sole break of serve in the first set with Murray conceding it due to a double fault. The two exchanged breaks at the start of the second but it was Berrettini’s break in the ninth game- again with Murray losing break point with a double fault – that allowed the 2021 Wimbledon finalist to serve out. Murray was visibly frustrated at the changeover as he tossed his racket in the direction of his seat, before then hitting his bag with the racket.
Berrettini’s drop shots were causing Murray all sorts of trouble, but the third stayed on serve in the early stages but was disrupted in the fourth game due to a spectator needing medical attention. At that stage Berrettini had break point, but after a delay in the proceedings, Murray took the game to deuce and held serve. Both held serve through to the tiebreak which Murray dominated, winning 7-1.
Murray broke Berrettini first up in the fourth, only for the Italian to break back in the next game. But the pivotal moment occurred in the eighth game where Berrettini forced two break points and a poor backhand from Murray found the net to give Berrettini the chance to serve for the match. He gave himself two match points and converted at the first time of asking as he pinged down a serve which Murray could only get a racket on.
“I’ve got hip metal,” Murray said afterwards. “It’s not easy playing with that. It’s really difficult. I’m surprised I’m still able to compete with guys that are right up at the top of the game.
“Matches like this, you know, I’m really proud that I have worked myself into a position where I’m able to do that. I’m really disappointed that, you know, I didn’t get over the line today. But, you know, I get reminded like this is the first time you’ve made the third round here since 2016. It’s been six years.
“Although it’s the first time I’ve only made the third round here, I’m really proud of that effort that I put into, you know, to get myself back into these positions. So I’m hoping that in the future I can go further, but considering, I did all right. “I think I’m improving this year. You know, my rankings, I don’t even know what I was at the beginning of the year, but I’m now around 40-ish in the world and still going hard. I want to push and see how far I can go.
“That will be motivational for me and interesting to see, because lots of people told me I wouldn’t be able to play again, and lots of people told me I’d be able to hit tennis balls but not compete professionally again. That was nonsense, and I want to see how close I can get back to the top of the game.”
This was the fourth meeting between Murray and Berrettini, with Murray winning in Beijing in 2019 and Berrettini taking the bragging rights in 2021 at Queen’s Club. Their last match was earlier this year in Stuttgart back in June, where Berrettini won 6-4, 5-7, 6-3.
The defeat finishes Murray’s Grand Slam calendar this year which saw him reach the second round of the Australian Open while he chose to withdraw from Roland Garros to focus on the grass court season. But at Wimbledon his campaign finished in the second round as he suffered a defeat to John Isner.
Berrettini’s had a turbulent year. After reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open, a hand injury saw him sidelined for the French Open while he contracted COVID-19 in the run up to Wimbledon which ruled him out of the championship. But he’s now into the fourth round of the US Open where he’ll face Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.