Andy Murray’s open return to the US ended in the second round at the hands of Canadian prodigy Felix Oger-Eliassem and the Scotsman, in his first singles tournament since hip surgery that saved his career 20 months ago, pulling out after 6. 2, 6-3, 6-4 defeat.
The two-time Wimbledon champ, 33, ran the ground in a four-and-a-half-hour five-set marathon against Yoshihito Nishioka on Tuesday. The hard-working and hard-hitting 20-year-old was his opponent just two days later, with a match against Dan Evans or Corentin Mott awaiting the winner.
“It feels great.” “I wish the fans were here,” said Auger Eliassim. “Life is funny, I came here as a kid in 2011 and it’s crazy that after nine years I am winning.
“I think everything comes together. We’ve been away from tennis for five months and I’ve been working on my post. Even with nerves I was able to serve really well. But in the back of your mind you know you’re up against Andy Murray. You never know what the tricks are.” Which he has in his pocket. Closing it is not easy. You are facing a great hero. “
Murray knew what he was facing in the match just 10 minutes into the match, after Auger Aliassim kept sending him love before securing a break in the second match. He designated Auger-Aliassime as a weakness of his game, but it was flawless.
Murray, one of the best returnees the sport has ever seen, did not create a single break point, and Oger-Eliassem escaped with the first set in 41 minutes, with the youngster taking 18 wins to Murray’s win.
Even Murray at his peak, without his exhausted toes and weary body that made him desperate for an ice shower after his efforts against Nishioka, he might have struggled to chase some of the ground hits that exploded from the ranked 15th racket.
Murray remained in the second set until 3-4, when Oger-Eliassem secured another break before heading home to take a 2-0 lead. Unlike the scene 48 hours ago, this time there was no heroic fight. There was simply not enough in the tank.
In 2011, Auger-Aliassime watched from the runway of Arthur Ashe as Murray beat Feliciano Lopez on his way to the semi-finals. Nine years later, in the same venue, he found what was arguably the best professional performance to take out the former world first player’s hopes for a second open title.