NEW YORK: Former champion Andy Murray and big-serving American John Isner bowed out of the US Open on Thursday (Aug 31) as second seed Aryna Sabalenka cruised into the third round.
Briton Murray, once spoken of in the same breath as tennis’ “Big Three”, has mounted a career comeback of sorts in 2023 but could not match the firepower of 19th seed Grigor Dimitrov under blistering sun on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“I’m aware what I’m doing, it’s unbelievably challenging to play at the highest level as I am now. And yeah, some days it’s harder than others,” Murray said.
“Ultimately these are the events that you want to play your best tennis in, and create more great moments and I didn’t do that this year.”
Isner, 38, won the longest professional tennis match in history against Frenchman Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010, which lasted 11 hours and 5 minutes and took place over three days.
“This is why I worked as hard as I have my whole life to play in atmospheres like this and of course I may not win them all as we know, just like today,” he said.
He had announced his intention to retire after the tournament but did not get the hero’s send-off he had hoped for as compatriot Michael Mmoh rallied from two sets down to beat him.
Isner may have called time on his singles career but will get another chance in the spotlight when he plays doubles later on Thursday with compatriot Jack Sock.
It was a routine day at the office for Sabalenka, who is looking to add another title to her name after collecting her maiden major prize at the Australian Open.
The Belarusian fired off 28 winners to take down Britain’s Jodie Burrage 6-3 6-2 and next faces France’s Clara Burel.
Fans of Carlos Alcaraz will get another chance at a proper prime time performance from the number one seed later on Thursday, after the Spaniard’s opener under the lights was cut short.
The defending champion is one of the biggest attractions at Flushing Meadows but ticket holders trudged to the subway early on Tuesday when his opening round affair ended in the second set as his opponent retired with injury.
The Wimbledon title holder kicks off the evening schedule on Arthur Ashe Stadium, where he will feed off the energy of loyal fans against second-round foe Lloyd Harris of South Africa.
“We try to bring good vibes to the crowd, to the people. I try to be myself all the time. I think the people love that part of me. (I’m) always happy, smiling,” Alcaraz told reporters.
Top American Jessica Pegula plays Romanian Patricia Maria Tig after on Ashe, as the third seed hopes to be the first woman from the United States to hoist the trophy on the New York hard courts since Sloane Stephens in 2017.
Across the plaza, Russian Daniil Medvedev will feature in the late night match on Louis Armstrong Stadium against Australian Christopher O’Connell, who he has beaten in both of their previous meetings.
The third seed has played second fiddle to Alcaraz and 23-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic at Flushing Meadows but put the field on notice with a first-round demolition of Attila Balazs.