NEW YORK That upward-pointing arrow defining Andy Murrays career flattened out dramatically Tuesday.
The British star, who had ascended to a No. 2 ranking, was ousted from the U.S. Open by No. 16 Marin Cilic, 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 a lopsided result as surprising for its score as they player he lost to.
Cilic overcame two set points in the first set, then pounded Murray over the last two to make his first career Grand Slam quarterfinal. Murray, who lost to Roger Federer in the final at Flushing Meadows last year, will finish 2009 without making a major final.
The match ended in the late afternoon in New York, and just before newspaper deadlines back in England, where the sports sections follow Murrays every move. Certainly, those headlines wont be nice Wednesday morning.
How to explain this loss, against the Croatian he had beaten in their three previous meetings?
Murray was holding his left wrist and grimacing in pain at the end of the first set. Beyond that, he simply looked flat.
Cilic said the set points he saved, trailing 4-5 in the first, was the turning point. He responded by getting to 0-40 ahead on Murrays serve in the next game, won the second break point, then cruised from there for his first win over an opponent ranked in the top three.
It was a relief for me to start getting more into the game, Cilic said. I didnt have to think too much. I played good, played tactically well, and he was missing.