A worrying sight was witnessed at Flushing Meadows on Sunday: Andy Murray losing a mental battle.
Murray was beaten by an admittedly impressive Stanislas Wawrinka, but it was the manner of the defeat that set alarm bells ringing.
Both players finished the match like punch-drunk boxers and it may be that the Scot was suffering from a physical problem - he did complain of a wrist injury after beating Dustin Brown - but he did not look overly troubled when a set and a break to the good.
Wawrinka possesses as much talent as anybody on tour but has often looked less than hearty when sucked into a battle. So to see Murray surrender a position of such authority is disappointing.
He may well have been rattled by Wawrinka calling the trainer to treat a leg problem at the start of the third set but he really needs to block those things out of his mind.
Time and again we have seen Murray drag himself into drawn out battles by letting his level drop but generally he has won through. Those sorts of games have been against players of inferior ability to the Scot, but this time he came up against a player of comparable talent.
The one thing Wawrinka did not look to possess in comparison to Murray is bottle. But last night instead of doing what he should have done and knock out a good man when he is wobbling, Murray allowed his opponent off the ropes and it cost him dear.
The US Open was a prime chance for him to get a slam under his belt as everything looked to be in his favour but he blinked at the vital moment and will now have four months to think about it before Australia.
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