It won’t happen this year after the 2012 champion fell in straight sets on Thursday to No. 15 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime. But unlike his most recent Grand Slam singles outing at last year’s Australian Open, a tearful opening-round defeat to Roberto Bautista Agut that left uncertainty about whether he’d compete again, Murray will depart New York hungry for more Grand Slam glory.
“That’s going to be extremely difficult to do. It was hard enough when I had two normal hips,” Murray said. “But I’ll keep trying. 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. I’m trying my best to get the most out of what my body gives me now.”
There are plenty of positives for Murray to take from his two weeks at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. He defeated Alexander Zverev at the Western & Southern Open for his first win over a player in the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings since 2017 Roland Garros. On Tuesday, he rallied from two sets down and saved a match point to defeat Yoshihito Nishioka after four hours and 39 minutes.
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But as Murray knows, tournaments aren’t won with a single performance. The mental and physical toll of his two milestone wins in New York proved too much and he followed them up with convincing losses. Murray said he’s eager to work on maintaining high levels of play throughout an entire match and building up stamina to bounce back after long battles as he turns his attention to competing on clay.
“I don’t want to lose in straight sets anywhere and certainly not in Grand Slams.” Murray said. “What I need to do is look at what happened the past couple of weeks, look at the things in my game that weren’t as I would have liked, and then physically look at what I can do to improve so that if I’m in that situation again in a few weeks’ time, I deal with it better.
“But all you can do is try and keep improving from where you are. I’m not in the same position that I was three years ago, when I was in the latter stages of most of the events I was playing… I’m 115 in the rankings and my game reflects that. So I’ll need to get better if I want to move up the rankings and be more competitive.”
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Murray is also enjoying the chance to play against a new generation of players for the first time. Auger-Aliassime spoke with reverence about sitting in the stands as a child and watching Murray compete at the 2011 US Open. But rather than feel his age, the Brit views cross-generation battles as a testament to his ability to still play world-class tennis after 15 years on Tour.
“It’s nice because it shows that you’ve had a long career. I was a bit sad that I missed playing against Agassi and Sampras,” Murray said. “I came along a couple of years too late. I would have liked to have the opportunity to do that because those are guys you watch on TV when you’re growing up.
“Going on the court against a young player, you feel like you go on with the experience of having been in that situation more times. The only downside is they might have been watching you play for a number of years, so they know your game probably a bit better than you know them… I don’t feel old or anything like that. I’m happy that I get the opportunity to play against the younger guys coming through.”