ANDY MURRAY, who suffered a surprise straight sets loss to Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka in the US Open quarter-finals last night, conceded he has struggled to fire himself up after his Wimbledon triumph.
The two-time grand slam winner has not looked at his best since his emotional win over Novak Djokovic at the All England Club in July and he conceded that he has since found it tough to get motivated.
“When you work hard for something for a lot of years, it’s going to take a bit of time to really fire yourself up and get yourself training at 110 per cent,” the Scot said after his 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 loss to ninth-seeded Wawrinka.
“That’s something that I think is kind of natural after what happened at Wimbledon, but I got here. I mean, I have been here nearly three weeks now.
“I practised a lot, and played quite a lot of matches as well. So I gave myself a chance to do well because I prepared properly.”
It has been a breakthrough year for Murray, who has won Olympic gold, the US Open and Wimbledon in the past 13 months. “I have played my best tennis in the slams the last two, three years. I lost today in straight sets, so that’s disappointing. I would have liked to have gone further,” said Murray. “But I can’t complain. If someone told me before the US Open last year I would have been here as defending champion having won Wimbledon and Olympic gold, I would have taken that 100 per cent.”
The Scot’s victory at Wimbledon was amplified by the pressure of ending Britain’s 77-year wait for a winner in their own tournament and the celebrations and accolades it brought.
But while there is no suggestion that Murray is burnt out, there is no doubt his recent form has been well below his own lofty standards. He lost to Latvian Ernest Gulbis in the third round at Montreal and was beaten in straight sets by Czech Tomas Berdych in the Cincinnati Masters event last month.
While he reached the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows without any major scare, there looked to be a clear lack of sparkle about his play.
Murray said winning Wimbledon had been physically and mentally draining. “It’s been challenging both ways for different reasons. I mean, physically I played some extremely tough matches in that period,” said Murray. “Mentally, as well, it was very challenging for me to play Wimbledon. The last few games of Wimbledon to you guys may not seem like much, but to me it was extremely challenging.”
Murray has been extremely consistent in grand slams, having reached the last eight in each one he entered in the past three years and his most recent four have produced two wins and two runners-up spots.
But that has brought increased expectation which Murray suggested might not be fair. “Well, I don’t know; if I’m meant to win every grand slam I play or be in the final, it’s just very, very difficult just now,” he said. “With the guys around us, it’s very challenging.”
For Wawrinka, it was his best result on the Grand-Slam stage and he even received a congratulatory text message upon reaching the last four from five-time US Open champion and compatriot Roger Federer, who left the stage to Wawrinka after an early dismissal from Flushing Meadows.
After Federer’s shock loss to Spain’s Tommy Robredo in the fourth round, Wawrinka continued his breakout year with display of supreme ball-striking to dominate Murray.
Wawrinka started the year with a bang, pushing world number one Novak Djokovic to 12-10 in the fifth set at the Australian Open. He has since pushed his world ranking to number 10.
Another jump is guaranteed after he lasted longer than Federer at a grand slam for the first time in his career.
“It’s my moment and I’m enjoying it a lot,” said Wawrinka, who added that he never resented Federer’s tremendous success. “I’m really thankful for him because he has helped me a lot. But today, for sure it’s my moment. Roger texted me straight after the match. He told me congrats.”
Wawrinka said the most pleasing aspect was controlling the nerves that have got the better of him in the past. “I was dealing with the pressure,” the 28-year-old said. “Normally I can be a little bit nervous and I can lose a few games because of that, but today I was just focused on my game.
“It’s amazing for me to be in my first semi-final of a grand slam, especially after beating Andy Murray, the defending champion. He won Wimbledon, too. To beat him in three sets, the way I was playing today, is quite good for me.”
Murray, incredibly, didn’t have one break point in the entire match.