Andy Murray’s US Open hopes went up in smoke as big-serving Kevin Anderson stunned the world number three with a thrilling four-set victory in their fourth round clash.
Murray had won five out of six previous meetings with Anderson but the 15th seed played the match of his life in Louis Armstrong Stadium to win 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 6-7 (2/7) 7-6 (7/0).
Murray led by a mini-break in the first-set tie-break but let it slip and the disappointment seemed to carry over into the second set, as he allowed his South African opponent to storm 5-1 clear.
The Scot fought back, breaking once, and almost again, but Anderson held his nerve to clinch a two-set lead.
Murray dug deep and sparked hopes of a comeback when he snatched the third set on a tie-break but the world number three left himself too much to do and Anderson closed out in the fourth.
It is the first time in 19 major tournaments that Murray has failed to make the quarter-finals.
“I felt like I had my opportunities there but didn’t manage to capitalise on them – when you’re playing against someone as good as him it’s tough,” Murray said.
“In the second set I felt like I was starting to put pressure on him there.
“When I had the break point at 5-3, I had a backhand pass that I really should have made.
“When you’re playing against players that are at that level, like him, you need to obviously make them think and then give them a chance to get nervous.”