Andy Murray’s start to the US Open run-up campaign stalled at the first hurdle on Monday, with the Scot bounced from the ATP event in Washington 7-6(8), 4-6, 6-1 by 115th-ranked Mikael Ymer.
The Swede advanced to the second round after nearly three hours of battle as he overcame the three-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1.
Murray, whose ranking is back to 50th after his five seasons of injury troubles and surgeries, is playing to earn a seeding at the Open in New York, which begins on August 29.
The 35-year-old has not given up hope of achieving his goal at Flushing Meadows in a few weeks:
“It’s still possible, but I’ll need to certainly play better than I did.”
He added: “It was disappointing obviously. I thought there was some good tennis in the first set. After that both of us were struggling a bit physically.
“The level of the tennis was not great, I had chances in the first set to close that out.
“I had set point in 6-5, then… three in the tie-break – and i didn’t get it.”
Murray missed on four set points in the opening set and fell behind to the Swede 3-1, though Ymer’s fitness began to fade slightly as the Scot levelled the match at a set each by winning five of the last six games of the second set.
In the third, Ymer re-established superiority to emerge with victory over the winner of 46 career titles.
Murray said the draining heat of Washington did not help either player.
“He seemed to be cramping a little bit in the second set, but recovered absolutely fine after the break at the end of the (second).
“He went off to change and cool off a little bit, and he recovered well for the third, whereas I didn’t really; it was just frustrating.”