British tennis went nil-for two on Friday as veteran Andy Murray and newcomer Jack Draper both crashed out in the third round of the US Open.
Murray’s 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-3 loss to 13th seed Matteo Berrettini and Draper’s groin injury retirement while trailing 6-3, 4-6, 6-5 against Karen Khachanov, still leaves two British men in contention to reach the second week.
Saturday’s programme is set to pit seventh seed Cameron Norrie against Holger Rune while Dan Evans takes on 2014 tournament winner Marin Cilic, both in the third round.
The only other Grand Slam event in the Open Era to feature at least four British men in the third round was 1997 Wimbledon: Tim Henman, Mark Petchey, Andrew Richardson and Greg Rusedski.
Murray was fuming after losing serve five times against 2021 Wimbledon winner Matteo Berrettini; he destroyed one racquet during a fit of rage.
He last reached the second week of a Slam at Wimbledon, 2017.
Berrettini fired 55 winners to 24 for Murray, who swore almost nonstop in moments of heat as he fought in vain for nearly four hours on the Ashe showcase court.
“I served pretty poorly for a large part of the match, which hurt me a lot,” the three-time Grand Slam champion said.
“I just couldn’t find any rhythm on serve. I hung in really well in the third set and was getting into rallies.
“He served extremely well, got loads of free points on his serve. I didn’t. That was the difference.”
The 35-year-old who won the Open in 2012, is still not right after half a decade of hip problems.
But Murray refused to get too hard on himself: “I’ve got a metal hip, it’s not easy playing with that. It’s really difficult.
“I’m surprised I’m still able to compete with guys that are right up at the top of the game.”
He added: “I’m really proud that I have worked myself into a position where I’m able to do that (challenge the top guys).
“I’m really disappointed that I didn’t get over the line today. But this is the first time you’ve made the third round here since 2016.
“It’s been a difficult six years for me. It’s been really hard. I’m really proud of that effort that I put into getting myself back into these positions.
“So I’m hoping in the future I can go further, but considering, I did all right.”
Berrettini, who came off an absence of several months with a hand injury and then had to quit before the start of Wimbledon with COVID, will play his fourth-round match against Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 winner over Colombian qualifier Daniel Galan.
“I found myself down a break in the fourth. But I kept thinking that I was doing the right things,” the Italian said of his tough win over Murray.
“I thought the chances I had in the previous sets, they will come again. That was my mindset.
“At the end it paid off, I’m really happy for that.”
Draper, whose claim to fame is a summer Eastbourne semi-final, lasted for two and a half hours against Khachanov, who sent over 14 aces to the Briton’s dozen.
The 20-year-old said he felt his previous injury reappear in the heat of battle.
“I’ve had problems with it before, and maybe it was the tennis I’ve played in the last seven weeks that just caught up on me.
“I went out to a wide ball (third game of the third set) and I just felt a twinge. It was getting worse, there is just no going back from that, really.
“At this level you can’t compete if you’re injured, it was a tough one.”
Norway’s Casper Ruud battled for nearly four and a half hours to overcome American Tommy Paul, with the Norwegian earning a 7-6(3), 6-7(5), 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-0 trip into the fourth round.
Ruud has broken new ground at the event after reaching the third round in 2020.
He finished with 37 winners to 61 for Paul, who had a massive 82 unforced errors over the course of the marathon.
Main photo:- Andy Murray lost in third round match with Matteo Berrettini by Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd