Andy Murray upset by Marin Cilic at US Open

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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NEW YORK - That upward-pointing arrow defining Andy Murray's 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 the 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 quarter-final. 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 Murray's every move. Certainly, those headlines won't be nice Wednesday morning.
"Today, I could've been better in pretty much every part of my game, whether it was mental, forehand, backhand, return," said Murray, who conceded that, yes, this was the most disappointing loss of his career.
How to explain this setback, coming in a season in which he'd been playing so well, against the Croatian he had beaten in their three previous meetings?
The right-handed Murray was holding his left wrist and grimacing in pain at the end of the first set. He said the wrist had been bothering him for a week or so.
Beyond that, he simply looked flat.
"Regardless of my wrist, I lost the match," Murray said. "I returned poorly. He served well and that was really the difference."
Murray only got 64 per cent of Cilic's serves back into play, nearly 15 per cent below his average this year, which ranks fourth in the world.
Cilic said the set points he saved, serving at 4-5 in the first, was the turning point. He responded by getting ahead 0-40 on Murray's serve in the next game, won the second break point, then took 13 of the next 17 games for his first career win over an opponent ranked in the top three.
"It was a relief for me to start getting more into the game," Cilic said, referring to his reaction after saving the set points. "I didn't have to think too much. I played good, played tactically well, and he was missing."
Murray had 29 unforced errors, 12 fewer than Cilic, but he hit only 13 winners and never looked comfortable in the match in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Cilic's next opponent is sixth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro, who defeated No. 24 Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.
Off on Tuesday, but certainly taking note, was Federer. Gone is the player who, at least the rankings say, was supposed to be the Swiss great's biggest challenger, the man who last month became the first since early 2006 to break the Federer-Rafael Nadal stranglehold on the top two spots.
Nadal, who has dropped to No. 3 after missing Wimbledon with sore knees, was to play No. 13 Gael Monfils later Tuesday.
Murray, meanwhile, was one of the sport's new breakout stars, one of the few out there who could beat Federer with some regularity and winner of five tournaments this year.
None of them, however, was a Grand Slam, and his status as a popular choice to break through this week wasn't worth much against Cilic.
"I put pressure on myself to win the tournaments," Murray said. "It's nice to hear that sometimes from other players, or ex-players, but it doesn't make a difference who says you're going to win, lose tournaments. That doesn't affect you."
The Murray loss, at least for a moment, became the buzz of a tournament that has been occupied with the unexpected rise on the women's side of 17-year-old Melanie Oudin and the comeback story of former No. 1 Kim Clijsters, who was on the sidelines for two years.
Clijsters advanced to the semifinals earlier Tuesday with a 6-2, 6-4 romp over No. 18 Li Na, becoming the first unseeded player to reach the Open semifinals since Elena Dementieva in 2000.
Mother of 18-month-old Jada, she is seeking to become the first mother to win a Grand Slam tournament since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980.
"I'm surprised to be sitting here talking to you right now," Clijsters said.
Her semifinal will be against No. 2 Serena Williams or No. 10 Flavia Pennetta, who were to play later Tuesday.

Organizations: U.S. Open

Geographic location: US, NEW YORK, England Arthur Ashe Stadium Wimbledon

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