A crestfallen Andy Murray appeared downbeat when he spoke about his future in the sport and suggested that he might not make deep runs at Grand Slam level anymore.
Murray was ousted from this year's US Open by Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets. Despite owning an 8-3 head-to-head advantage in the matchup, a lot has happened since their last clash in 2016 which was won by Murray. Dimitrov arrived here fitter, and more composed, and achieved the perfect blend of attack and defense to stop Murray in his tracks.
Speaking after the match, Murray was clearly disappointed with his performance, being profligate when he had the chance to break Dimitrov (two from nine on breaks), and then producing a subpar serving performance himself. Murray tallied seven double faults in the match and won just 60% first-serve points.
Murray finished the match with 16 winners and a whopping 45 unforced errors. Asked to sum up his performance, the 36-year-old stated that he didn't do enough behind his return and acknowledged Dimitrov's court craft being a massive difference as well.
"Well, I felt like there was two things: One, I created lots of chances on the return and didn't break serve enough; I didn't serve well. Obviously started every single set. I think I got broken at the beginning of every set so could never sort of get any scoreboard pressure really."
"Yeah, I mean, he obviously moves very well, and then the way that he plays in terms of, you know, obviously hits a lot of slice backhands. It's not always easy to finish points, you know, off that shot."
Murray's long-term future in the game is always a hot topic on the back of a tough, early loss, especially in Grand Slam tournaments, which is the Briton's prime motivation for extending his career after undergoing hip surgery a few years ago.
Murray, now 36, and having finished with a 4-3 win-loss record at the majors this year, accepts the difficulty of playing at the highest level and says his best days where he made deep runs at Grand Slams might not happen again.
"Yeah, I mean, it's obviously disappointing, yeah, to not play how you would like, you know. But maybe I need to accept that, you know, these events, I had the deep runs and everything that I felt like I'm capable of, they might not be there, as well."
"So, you know, I'm aware what I'm doing, it's unbelievably challenging to play at the highest level as I am now. And yeah, some days it's harder than others."
Even though he has yet to achieve a seeding spot since his return, which Murray believes will significantly improve his chances as he will avoid the top players in the earlier rounds, he opined that he's made substantial progress from a ranking perspective. In case, things go backward from here, he might reverse his playing decision.
"Yeah, I've obviously been progressing this year from a ranking perspective. Yeah, like, I still enjoy everything that goes into, you know, playing at a high level. I enjoy the work. You know, the training and trying to improve and trying to get better, I do still enjoy that."
"If things change and I stop enjoying that or my results, my ranking and everything, like, if I start to go backwards in that respect, you know, in a few months' time I was ranked 60 in the world or whatever instead of moving up the way, things might change."