Andy Murray lost to Stanislas Wawrinka in the third round of the US Open on Sunday: 7-6, 6-7, 3-6, 3-6. It wasn’t a major upset – Stan had beaten Murray a handful of times, once on hardcourt – but it was a Major upset. I watched live-and-in-person a few weeks ago as Andy Murray beat both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in straight sets on his way to the Toronto Masters title. He was playing free flowing, confident, Major-winning tennis. But come the big show – and one most of us thought he had a real chance of winning – Murray just couldn’t find the magic. And it’s just not so easy to explain, since he can’t blame this loss on the genius of Rafa or Roger. But here’s Andy doing his best to figure it out:
Q. This is the last major of the year. How would you assess your season through now?
ANDY MURRAY: Well, I mean, I played great tennis in Australia. I played very well in Wimbledon. You know, like I said, the Masters Series this summer went very well. I was poor from the Australian Open till about the French/Wimbledon time. But I’ve had two very good majors and two where I haven’t been so good. But I’ve lost to Roger, who’s probably the best ever. I lost to Rafa, who I think will be the second best, if not the best, ever. You know, Berdych, who played great tennis this year. And, you know, today was a match I probably should have won. The one in the majors that I lost that I probably should have won. So I’m disappointed.
Yay! We have A Dumb Press Conference Question – although this technically falls under the Dumb Statement category – an even bigger fail:
Q. Are you feeling better about this place? You haven’t done really too well here.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I did two semifinals in the past.
Q. Oh, yes. That’s not bad.
RAFAEL NADAL: For me that’s not bad. (Laughter.)
Rafa was also asked about a “stupid” NYPost story reporting that he had refused to ride in a courtesy car because it had Federer’s image on it (yeah, sound just like something a confirmed Fedophile like Rafa would do, right?)
Q. There was a report this afternoon that the other day you didn’t want to take one of the transportation vans that had a picture of Roger. Can you describe what happened?
RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, well, if you know me, you know that I not gonna do. This is very stupid thing. I was in a van of the picture of Roger, both sides of the van, like 15 times these two weeks. (Smiling). So that’s very stupid thing. That’s never happen.
Speaking seriously, is better the other side. I want this car because is bigger, and I am more comfortable with this car than with the others. You can see the car of Roger’s photo is there, is outside, is a van. So is much bigger than the other ones.
Roy know, the manager of the transportation, that I always want this car. So it was good.
Q. Did you get out of that car that had his picture or you stayed in it?
RAFAEL NADAL: I thought my English was better. (Laughter.)
I said I went with this car 15 times.
Rafa’s opponent on Sunday, Gilles Simon, had other modes of transportation on his mind: “The third set (vs. Nadal), I have to say that I was already in the plane,” he told the press, excited to be flying back to France to swaddle his newborn son in a little US Open tee. Gilles lost to Rafa 6-4. 6-4, 6-2.
(Adorable Simon image via the Roland-Garros Facebook page via GTT reader Jess!)
So what was Ana’s excuse?
Ana Ivanovic played a horrible Round of 16 vs Kim Clijsters on Arthur Ashe, losing 1-6, 2-6 in just under an hour. Her wayward ball toss and John McEnroe’s harsh commentary – “one dimensional,” “poor,” “chicken with her head cut off” – made it a singularly painful way to spend a Sunday morning.
Ana blamed her crap performance on nerves:
Q. What were you nervous about?
ANA IVANOVIC: I don’t know. Just felt like, you know, I was on the big stage again. I didn’t have that feeling for a long time. You know, lots of kind of emotions came back, and I felt just a little slow and just a little bit, you know, out of it.
Francesca Schiavone is not intimidated by the big stage. She’s into the quarterfinals of the US Open and she’s looking to cook up another magical run at a Major. She dropped some hints to the media after feeding Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova a bagel:
Q. What do our American courts taste like, or have you tried that yet?
FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE: No, I didn’t test with my lips, but I can — I think I will do something, but the ways is long. So it will be a secret.
Q. What are you starting to feel now? This is the second time you have been in the quarterfinals here.
FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE: I feel better than when I was in French Open, but just because I know how to do it and how to win a match like this.
So I’m very curious, I’m interesting to see and to write a new history. But for me, not for tennis, because tennis have so many big champions that can win big match or bad match, is the same.
So for me, it’s fantastic, really, to be here.
Q. But it’s not enough yet?
FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE: No. When you win one, you can say, I want another one, or when you — yeah, as many as you can. You are hungry, of course, but you have to respect, because to win a Grand Slam is something so big, so long, so tough that it’s absolutely so far away from the moment.
Francesca may find herself on the wrong end of the food chain come Tuesday, when she faces Venus Williams, who defeated Shahar Peer in straights in her round of 16 match. Here’s what Venus had to say about her upcoming opponent, who is six days her junior: “Obviously her game is better than ever now. Seems like everybody is hitting their stride at 30. (Laughter.) It’s the new 20.”
Sam Stosur and Elena Dementieva treated fans to a three set finale on Sunday night, after John Isner lost to Mikhail Youzhny in four. The roller coaster match pitted two of the WTA’s biggest jocks against one another and the two women took it the distance. After starting strong, Stosur failed to hold serve once in the second set and was in a 0-3 hole in the third. She eventually won the match in a tiebreak – at 1:37 in the morning. It was the latest ever finish for a women’s match in U.S. Open history. Sam’s earned her Labor Day vacation tomorrow – she’ll face Clijsters in the quarterfinals.
The When Will You Win a Major, Already? Hall of Fame:
Let’s take a quick look-see as we head into Week 2 at the Open.
The last 16 men standing (6 of them are Spaniards):
Rafael Nadal ESP (1) v Feliciano Lopez ESP (23)
David Ferrer ESP (10) v Fernando Verdasco ESP (8)
Stanislas Wawrinka SUI (25) v Sam Querrey USA (20)
Mikhail Youzhny RUS (12) v Tommy Robredo ESP
Richard Gasquet FRA v Gael Monfils FRA (17)
Mardy Fish USA (19) v Novak Djokovic SRB (3)
Robin Soderling SWE (5) v Albert Montanes ESP (21)
Jurgen Melzer AUT (13) v Roger Federer SUI (2)
On the women’s side, Schiavone, Venus, Stosur and Clijsters are already through to the quarters. But there are still a few fabulous fourth rounds to complete (okay, really I’m just talking about Wozniacki vs. Sharapova):
Caroline Wozniacki DEN (1) v Maria Sharapova RUS (14)
Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS (11) v Dominika Cibulkova SVK
Kaia Kanepi EST (31) v Yanina Wickmayer BEL (15)
Andrea Petkovic GER v Vera Zvonareva RUS (7)