Andy Murray was left fuming after losing an epic five-set battle to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the US Open first round on Monday.
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The Greek third seed rallied to defeat the 34-year-old Scot 2-6, 7-6 (9/7), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 after four hours and 39 minutes.
This was likely Murray’s best performance since his heady 2016 season, but Tennis Opinion Worldwide feels it’s a result that Murray will rue in the months to come.
Murray’s movement was significantly better than we’ve seen in recent years and the faster court conditions appeared to aide him – compared to Tsitsipas who is a tad more comfortable in slower conditions.
Murray, though, made two TWO rookie mistakes that we felt affected his concentration and likely meant the difference between winning and losing.
After narrowly losing the second set in a tie-breaker, Murray’s shoes were soaked from perspiration and the Scot left the court barefooted to find another pair. However, the problem was he couldn’t find another pair! His entourage in the coaching box also looked perplexed as Murray could be heard cursing at them.
Whoever was at fault, it was a rookie error and a player of Murray’s caliber should have come better prepared. It caused an unnecessary distraction and it led to more outbursts from the Scot.
Murray’s second mistake was letting Tsitsipas’s medical timeouts and long bathroom breaks get under his skin. There’s no doubt it was gamesmanship from the Greek, but a player of Murray’s experience should have known better than to let it annoy him that much.
Murray’s lapses in concentration saw him lose focus too often in the final two sets and it proved costly.
“It’s not so much leaving the court. It’s the amount of time,” Murray lamented in his post-match press conference. “I spoke to my team before the match about it and said to expect that, prepare for it if things were not going his way.
“You cannot stop the way that affects you physically. When you’re playing a brutal match like that, stopping for seven, eight minutes, you do cool down. You can prepare for it mentally as much as you like, but it’s the fact that it does affect you physically when you take a break that long, well, multiple times during the match.
“Every single time it was before my serve as well. When he took the medical timeout (for his left leg), it was just after I had won the third set.”
In the fourth set, Tsitsipas made a racquet switch down 0-30. And after the fourth set, the Greek took an unusually long bathroom break, then broke Murray to open the final set.
“It can’t be coincidence that it’s happening at those moments,” Murray added. “I don’t believe it was causing him any issue at all. He was fine, moving great I thought.
“It’s just disappointing because I feel it influenced the outcome of the match. I’m not saying I necessarily win that match, for sure, but it had influence on what was happening after those breaks.”
This is not the first time Murray would have faced a player attempting to stall proceedings and disrupt his rhythm.
How many times has Rafael Nadal slowed proceedings down when under pressure? Murray should have stayed calm and focused on the job at hand.
It would have been a monumental victory over the world No 3.
Murray has, after all, not beaten a top five player since his win over Novak Djokovic at the 2016 World Tour finals to become world No 1.
Picture: Andy Murray – ATP Tour/Twitter
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