Waiting until August to kick off the season, Andy Murray defeated world no. 7 Alexander Zverev in Cincinnati for positive vibes ahead of the US Open. Still, that triumph over the German remains the only good match for the Briton in 2020, winning only nine games against Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second round in New York and suffering another severe loss at Roland Garros to a former champion Stan Wawrinka.
Taking a wild card, Murray could draw anyone in the first round, crossing paths with the rival from the top-20 who scored a commanding 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 win in an hour and 37 minutes. Disappointed by Murray's performance, Mats Wilander said the Briton should consider his next moves and stop taking wild cards away from the youngster who would have used them more efficiently.
Three years ago, Murray and Wawrinka played an epic Roland Garros semi-final, with not a glimpse of that one in their Sunday's encounter, as Stan controlled the pace from start to finish. Wawrinka had a massive advantage in the shortest and mid-range exchanges, blasting 42 winners and 27 unforced errors and leaving Murray on a miserable 10-26 ratio.
Serving at 36% (!), Murray gave serve away six times from eight chances offered to Wawrinka, wasting all three break chances and quickly hitting the exit door. Andy endured an extended rally in the first game to bring it home before Stan landed a backhand down the line winner to level the score at 1-1.
Wasting game points in the third game, Andy suffered a break when his forehand landed long, with Wawrinka firing an ace down the T line to open a 3-1 gap. The Swiss hit the zone, painting a forehand down the line winner in the fifth game for another break, closing the set with the third straight break for 6-1 in 33 minutes.
Mats Wilander believes Andy Murray should stop using wild cards.
A former champion claimed 19 of the last 23 points, gathering momentum ahead of set number two and kicking it off with an ace for a hold at 15. Murray was there to fight at least in those minutes, producing comfortable holds in games two and four before Stan forced an error from him to grab a break at 15 in game six.
Serving for the set, Stan placed an easy forehand winner at 5-3, forging two sets to love advantage in swift 67 minutes and looking good to seal the deal in straights. In set number three, he broke Murray's serve in the first game after a perfect drop shot and repelled three break points in the next one to confirm the advantage.
The Briton brought games three and five home to remain within one break deficit, hoping for return opportunities. Instead of that, Wawrinka clinched a break with a backhand down the line winner, moving 5-2 up and holding at 15 with an ace to propel himself into the next round.
"I keep getting a little disappointed, is it his right to be out there doing that? I did it, and I shouldn't have; it was the biggest mistake I made in my career. I think Murray needs to stop thinking of himself and start thinking about who he was.
Does he have a right to be out there, taking wild cards from the young players? It's tough to quit, for sure. By giving us all hope by playing, it's just not right. I love the fact that he is back and trying. Hopefully, he'll figure out why he's doing it," Mats Wilander said.