High hopes dashed as Murray ousted

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NEW YORK --- Disappointed.

That was the word Andy Murray used over and over to describe how he felt about his exit from the U.S. Open.

After all, Murray arrived at Flushing Meadows ranked No. 2, owner of a tour-leading 37 wins on hard courts this season -- and quite sure he was prepared to win his first Grand Slam title a year after reaching the U.S. Open final. Instead, he heads home after the fourth round, a 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 loser to No. 16 Marin Cilic, of Croatia, on Tuesday.

"I just struggled today. I played poorly," Murray said. "I could have been better in pretty much every part of the game, whether it was mental or serve, forehand, backhand, returns."

Ahead 5-4, he wasted two set points. By the second set, Murray was grimacing while flexing his left wrist, which he acknowledged afterward had been bothering him for about a week. By the third, Murray was moping about the court.

"Regardless of my wrist, I lost the match," Murray said. "I returned poorly. He served well -- and that was really the difference."

Murray's loss, at least for one evening, turned into the talk of a tournament that had been generating very little buzz about the men's field. Instead, the focus has been on the women's event, thanks to the surprising emergence of 17-year-old American Melanie Oudin and the quick comeback of former No. 1 Kim Clijsters.

Oudin plays in the first major quarterfinal of her career tonight -- she obliged autograph-seekers after practicing Tuesday -- and Clijsters already is into the semifinals, where she will face a Williams for the second time this tournament.

Clijsters beat Venus Williams in the fourth round; now she will take on defending champion Serena Williams, who improved to 23-1 in Grand Slam singles matches this season by beating No. 10 Flavia Pennetta, of Italy, 6-4, 6-3 on Tuesday night.

Clijsters and Serena Williams both have 12-match winning streaks at the U.S. Open.

TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS

A look at Tuesday's play at the $21.6 million U.S. Open tennis championships:

STAT OF THE DAY: Kim Clijsters is the first unseeded women's semifinalist since Elena Dementieva in 2000.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Today, I could've been better in pretty much every part of my game, whether it was mental, forehand, backhand, return." -- 2008 finalist Andy Murray, who lost his fourth-round match to Marin Cilic

TODAY ON TV: ESPN2, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., 7-11 p.m.; Tennis Channel, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.


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