Andy Murray’s return to Grand Slam tennis ended Thursday in a four-set defeat by Spanish 31st seed Fernando Verdasco in the US Open second round.
The former British number one, playing his first Slam in 14 months, lost 7-5 2-6 6-4 6-4 in New York.
In sweltering conditions, Murray, 31, battled hard but did not have enough to overcome the 34-year-old Verdasco.
Compatriot Cameron Norrie lost 6-2 2-6 6-4 6-4 to Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic as British singles representation ended.
It was only Murray’s fifth tournament back since having hip surgery in January.
The Scot looked exhausted at times during a physical encounter on a humid Arthur Ashe Stadium – a combination of the conditions as temperatures rose close to 100F (38C) and his lack of five-set matches since being sidelined through injury.
Murray’s limp between points – a regular sight in recent years – seemed to become heavier as the match wore on.
“It wasn’t the most comfortable I felt on a tennis court. I got through it and fought right to the end,” he said.
Murray continued to show the dogged determination that helped him win three Grand Slam titles at the peak of his powers, pushing Verdasco to the limit before succumbing to a third match point in three hours and 23 minutes.
Despite defeat, Murray felt he played some of his best tennis since returning to the ATP Tour in June.
“There were periods in the match where I played some really good stuff,” he said.
“But there were some where I didn’t – especially in the first set – and that was costly for me.”
Murray, now ranked 382nd in the world and unseeded, had the fortune of avoiding a high-ranked opponent in the first round, battling back to beat 448th-ranked James Duckworth – the Australian also on the road to recovery after long-term injury – in three sets on Monday.
That pitted him against two-time US Open quarter-finalist Verdasco, who Murray said he expected to test his movement – and the Spaniard did exactly that.