In the second round against Canadian prodigy Felix Auger-Aliassime, Andy Murray’s comeback at the US Open ended.
Murray, after a 6-2 6-3 6-4 loss, was eliminated in his first Grand Slam singles tournament since undergoing career-saving hip surgery 20 months ago.
In a four-and-a-half-hour five-set marathon against Yoshihito Nishioka, the two-time Wimbledon champion, 33, ran himself into the ground on Tuesday.
And just two days later, with a quick run and blow, his rival was a 20-year-old. The winners were waiting for a match against Dan Evans or Corentin Moutet.
After just 10 minutes, Murray knew what was coming after Auger-Aliassime served his forehand before breaking in the second game.
Murray had described the serve of Auger-Aliassime as a weak point in his game, but it was flawless. There was no single break point for Murray, one of the best returning players the sport has ever seen.
In 41 minutes, Auger-Aliassime took the first set, with the youngster reaching 18 winners, just one for Murray.
Even Murray would have struggled at his best to overcome some of the groundstrokes that came his way in the 15th set, without the bruised toes and tired body that left him desperate for an ice bath after his exertions against Nishioka.
In the second set, Murray remained in the match until 3-4, when Auger-Aliassime managed another break before sinking an ace for a lead of 2-0.
There was no valiant comeback this time, unlike the scene 48 hours earlier. In the tank, there just wasn’t enough left.
In 2011, when Murray defeated Feliciano Lopez on his way to the semifinals, Auger-Aliassime watched from the Arthur Ashe Grandstand.
Nine years later, he delivered arguably his best performance of his career at the same venue to ruin the hopes of the former world number one for a second Open title.
“Murray said, “He played the way I expected him to play. He’s a big man. He takes the ball. Obviously, there are also pretty fast conditions here. I expected him to play like that.
Perhaps he served a little better tonight than he did in the last few weeks, so that helped.
With the first serve, he got quite a few free points, and even when I had a racket on it, he was able to dictate the rally’s first shot.
“Physically, in the first round, I actually did pretty good, I thought. But I think the more tournaments you play, the more matches you play, you develop the kind of sturdiness in your body that I just don’t have right now.
The suspension gave him the chance to hone his service, Auger-Aliassime announced.
I think it all came together,” he said. “Five months we’ve been away from tennis, and I’ve been working on it. I’ve been able to serve well, even with nerves.
“But you know that you’re going up against Andy Murray in the back of your mind. You never know what tricks he has in his bag. It’s not easy to finish it. You’re facing a great champion.
“That’s an amazing feeling. I wish the fans had come. Life’s funny. I came here as a kid in 2011, and it’s insane to be here nine years later and win.