NEW YORK — Andy Murray’s defence of his US Open crown came to an abrupt end as Stanislas Wawrinka produced a superlative performance to win their quarter-final in straight sets today.
Murray never quite got to grips with the blustery conditions in New York but, in truth, it was Wawrinka who blew him away as he recorded an emphatic 6-4 6-3 6-2 success to reach his first-ever grand slam semi-final.
Having edged a hard-fought first set, the Swiss star pulled away and did not face a single break-point on his way to a place in the last four as Murray cut an increasingly frustrated and abject figure.
The defeat was Murray’s worst at a grand slam since being beaten by the same player in the third round at Flushing Meadows three years ago.
Such a one-sided contest did not look on the cards as the first nine games of the first set passed without either player genuinely threatening his opponent’s delivery.
But that all changed as Murray served to stay in the set at 4-5 and, although the Scot battled well to fend off five break-points, he finally succumbed on the sixth when firing a forehand long and promptly smashed his racket in anger.
Murray was in trouble again at the start of the second set as he let a 40-0 lead slip, but he saved a break-point with a second-serve ace.
But, as he has for much of the event, the Scot frequently appeared agitated and cracked again in the sixth game, three errors giving his opponent the chance to nail a backhand down the line and move into a 4-2 lead.
The British number one at least made Wawrinka serve out the set and the Swiss looked a little nervy, but he clinched it when the third seed put a return wide.
Murray has come back from two sets to love down seven times in his career, but this never looked like being an eighth..
Rafael Nadal turned on the style to crush fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo in their quarter-final clash.
Robredo had beaten Brit Dan Evans and 17-times grand slam champion Roger Federer en route to the last eight.
However he was completely blown away as Nadal stormed to a 6-0 6-2 6-2 victory.
Robredo, who managed only one set in six previous meetings with Nadal, won only five points in a first set that lasted just 22 minutes.
There was a huge cheer from the night crowd on Arthur Ashe when Robredo finally won a game in the second set, but by that stage he was already 2-0 down.
Nadal has not had his serve broken all tournament and Robredo could not put him under any real pressure.
As soon as Nadal broke in the fifth game of the third set the match was as good as over, although to his credit Robredo did not stop fighting.
The victory took Nadal’s record on hard courts this year to 20 wins and no defeats, and he will be a big favourite to defeat Richard Gasquet in the semi-finals.
Richard Gasquet staved off a storming fightback from David Ferrer to book his place in a first-ever US Open semi-final.
The French eighth seed eventually prevailed in an epic five-set quarter-final 6-3 6-1 4-6 2-6 6-3 in just under three-and-a-half hours.
Gasquet, who needed five sets to defeat Milos Raonic in the previous round, came into the match with a 1-8 record against fourth-seeded Ferrer, who had won their five previous meetings without losing a set.
But Gasquet looked destined to turn the formbook on its head when he stormed into a two-set lead.
The 27-year-old took the opener 6-3 as his infamous one-handed backhand proved too hot for Ferrer to handle.
The Spaniard, who has struggled for form since the clay-court season, was blown away in the second set 6-1 and it came as somewhat of a surprise when he broke early in the third to change the momentum of the match.
Gasquet had retreated far behind the baseline and, although there were still plenty of shots to wow the crowd, Ferrer was in charge.
The Frenchman had chances in the middle of the fourth set but did not take them, and when Ferrer pulled level it appeared the match was only heading one way.
Of Gasquet’s last six five-set defeats at grand slams, five of them have come after he was two sets up.
But there have been signs this season that Gasquet was ready to leave his reputation behind him. (Sky)