Murray KO'd; Venus, Nadal, Clijsters advance at Open wire reports

NEW YORK -- No. 4 Andy Murray made an earlier-than-expected exit from the U.S. Open, losing in the third round to No. 25 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland on Sunday.

Britain's Murray was a popular pick this year, based on trips to the finals at Flushing Meadows two years ago and this year's Australian Open, along with a win in Montreal last month in which he beat both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

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Wawrinka rallied from a break down late in the second set for a 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-3 upset -- a loss certain to be picked apart by the tennis-loving fans back home.

"I have no idea of whether I'll win a Grand Slam or not," Murray said. "I want to. But if I never win one, then what? If I give 100 percent, try my best, physically work as hard as I can, practice as much as I can, then that's all I can do."

Murray makes his second straight early exit from the U.S. Open. Last year, as the No. 2 seed, he was upset in the quarterfinals by Marin Cilic. Murray is trying to become the first British man to win a Grand Slam tournament since 1936. He was a popular pick this year, based on trips to the finals at Flushing Meadows two years ago and this year's Australian Open, along with a championship in Montreal last month in which he beat both Nadal and Federer.

Wawrinka will next play 20th-seeded American Sam Querrey in the fourth round.

In the two late matches, 12th-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia beat big-serving American John Isner, the 18th seed, 6-4, 6-7 (9), 7-6 (7), 6-4. The 6-foot-9 Isner lost despite pounding 33 aces at up to 144 mph. His biggest problem: 61 unforced errors, 25 more than Youzhny. In the nightcap, Sam Stosur won the latest-finishing women's match in U.S. Open history, erasing four match points to beat 2004 runner-up Elena Dementieva 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (2) in the fourth round.

Meanwhile, Venus Williams struggled with her serve. She kept tugging at her dress. Every bit as big a nuisance was her opponent, Shahar Peer. So on an afternoon in which Kim Clijsters and Rafael Nadal cruised, third-seeded Williams never looked quite comfortable in hers. She defeated the 16th-seeded Peer 7-6 (3), 6-3 on the second straight windy day in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Williams got only 48 percent of her first serves in. She faced six break points and lost three. She squandered five chances to wrap up the first set in a 22-point 12th game. As for the dress -- a red "daytime" version of the black, sequined number she wore two nights previously -- well, she spent much of the match tugging at it to keep it at barely high-thigh level.

"No," she said when asked if the dress bothered her. "The only thing that bothered me was when I didn't win the point, I think. That was it."

After the Williams match, top-seeded Nadal took the court and experienced no such trouble. He faced only one break point -- and saved it -- in a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Frenchman Gilles Simon. Nadal has gone 46-for-46 in service games through his first three U.S. Open matches.

This was the easiest of match of the three.

"Today was a solid match, I think," Nadal said. "The serve is still good, so that's a very important thing. From the baseline, I think my movements and my shots start to improve, to be better every day."

In the fourth round, Nadal will play No. 23 Feliciano Lopez, who won when Sergiy Stakovshy retired with a toe injury. No. 10 Gil Ferrer and No. 8 Fernando Verdasco also advanced - meaning all four players left in Nadal's section of the draw are Spaniards.

Williams' next match is a quarterfinal against No. 6 Francesca Schiavone, who had few problems in a 6-3, 6-0 win over 20th-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Williams likely will need to play better to get past Schiavone after a match in which the two-time champion looked more like someone who was trying to find her form - which she is after missing most of August with an injured left kneecap - than someone breezing her way through the draw.

"We always have had very competitive matches, so I know it's not going to be something I just walk through when I play against her," Williams said of the matchup against Peer. "I have to stay focused and ready to take every point or else she will. It was a good challenge."

Serving intelligently and handling Williams' power, Peer was surprisingly game, even though she fell to 0-6 lifetime in the matchup and has yet to win a set. Trailing 6-5 and serving to stay in the first set, Peer staved off five set points before finally winning a game that took more than 12 minutes.

But Williams overpowered her in the tiebreaker to wrap up an opening set that took 1 hour, 8 minutes.

"It's not new that I'm trying to win and fighting for every ball and hanging in there every point," Peer said. "But I do think it can give me more for the future, because every time I played Venus I had tough time and she was always kind of killing me every match."

While Williams is the only American woman left in the draw, the men have a number of candidates. No. 20 Sam Querrey pulled off a mild third-round upset, defeating No. 14 Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. No. 19 Mardy Fish plays his fourth-round match Monday against No. 3 Novak Djokovic.

American Sam Querrey signs some autographs after his mild upset victory. (AP)  
American Sam Querrey signs some autographs after his mild upset victory. (AP)  
"Hopefully we can have someone win a Grand Slam," Querrey said. "That's what we need. John and Mardy and myself, the three guys left, we're trying our best."

Back on the women's side, second-seeded Clijsters put a quick end to Ana Ivanovic's nice run at Flushing Meadows, winning her 18th straight U.S. Open match with a 6-2, 6-1 wipeout of the former world No. 1.

Ivanovic, who fell to as low as No. 65 after a couple of injury-plagued years, has gotten back to No. 40 and was trying to move higher. She won three matches at the U.S. Open and was getting her biggest test - and opportunity - against the defending champion.

It wasn't much of a contest.

After regaining an early break to pull within 3-2 in the first, Ivanovic got overpowered, losing seven straight games to turn the match into a rout. Clijsters, moving as well as anyone in the tournament, used heavy, deep groundstrokes to pressure Ivanovic into 28 unforced errors. Looking like the more comfortable player, Clijsters fought through the wind and took command.

"She's playing with a lot more confidence," Clijsters said, in describing her mindset going against Ivanovic. "I can stay with her in the beginning of those first few games where she was playing really good tennis, if I could just stay with her and kind of just, make her doubt once in a while."

Trailing 4-1 in the second set, Ivanovic served a game that went seven deuces, but closed with a double fault. Eight points later, the match was over. It lasted 59 minutes. Ivanovic said she was nervous through much of it.

"I was on the big stage again," she said. "Lots of emotions came back and I just felt a little slow and just a little bit out of it."

Clijsters next faces the winner of a match scheduled for Sunday night between No. 5 Sam Stosur and No. 12 Elena Dementieva.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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