The latest high-profile player to voice criticism over the tiebreaks that Britain’s Andy Murray failed to win in a Masters 1000 match against Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas came from his former junior coach.
Tsitsipas — ranked No. 40 in the world — upset Murray in the second round of the US Open and won the tiebreak at 5-7 before taking the set 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 and winning 6-2.
The Greek 20-year-old, who is one of the up-and-coming talents on the ATP Tour, later shared with the world that Murray had cut short a film appearance in London following the defeat, the latest in a long line of grand slam defeats for the three-time Wimbledon champion.
As reported by Britain’s Daily Telegraph, Murray’s former junior coach Trevor Edmund told the paper Murray was “pissed off” and hinted the Scot’s form had been affected by pressure coming from the media to return from surgery.
“Andy has lost a lot of respect for Stefanos on court,” he said. “If you give yourself some latitude to play, he becomes untouchable. And he was begging for a point at 6-4 and 7-6.”
Murray’s first grand slam clash of the season against Tsitsipas took place on Tuesday in New York, but the quarterfinal loss to Kevin Anderson did not come as a surprise for Edmund.
“There was never any hope against the guy,” said Edmund, who coached Murray between 2014 and 2016. “He wanted to win, never let him get to a break-point, never was able to break him. The start was just the worst I have ever seen, and Andy’s record in quarterfinals of grand slams is 13-11.
“A few hours later, he gets pissed off. When you have a bad start like that, that means you are going to lose the next one, and I cannot see him coming back.
“I asked him, ‘Were you bothered by that?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ I asked him if it affected him, and he said, ‘It did. I want to be in the semifinals of slams and just because I can play doesn’t mean I want to play.’
“He was in London last week, had an exclusive in the Telegraph magazine, on the tour, on the Daily Mail website, and Twitter was going crazy. He didn’t want to do it. Then he came out with the picture in the newspaper, he was pissed off. He lost respect for Stefanos.
“Do I expect him to turn around like this? No. But at the same time I would have taken a tougher game plan to play Stefanos in that form. It is not like Andy could just come out and hit it big. Even against Milos (Raonic) he lost concentration. He was not there mentally.”
You might have expected Murray to be in a confident mood after making the second round at Flushing Meadows, but Edmund said his former protege was “terrified” by the prospect of returning to the venue on Wednesday, after beating Federer.
“We spoke,” Edmund added. “I said, ‘You are a great player, you want to play some of the top guys, you want to play them to see your game. But you should just hit the ball more, and make a few more unforced errors, let the big guys hit it really hard. There are so many days when you hit a lot of deep, fast shots on the forehand and backhand. You should hit fewer of those and be more ruthless. Get some shots in on the forehand and the backhand, then start making fewer errors.
“It was working fine after the first couple of sets. The first 20 or 30 minutes, then it got darker. When that happens it is a different ball game. It is fair to say if the lights were on, he could not last against Stefanos because he became very nervous. I would say if you have a tough match against a Top 10 player, you get the fear in you and you go out there with fear. You don’t need to be scared of anyone. That is when you play your best tennis.”
Murray is now ranked sixth in the world — now behind Raonic (ninth), Raonic (11th), Raonic (12th) and Marin Cilic (13th).
Despite this weekend being deemed a good opportunity for his return, Murray said “no one has told me that”.
Asked if he felt another grand slam was still on the cards, he replied: “No. I’m just getting closer to my first grand slam since the injury. That’s going to be a really good thing. I’m trying to get better.”