Andy Murray’s US Open comeback came to an end in the second round at the hands of Canadian prodigy Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Murray, in his first grand slam singles tournament since career-saving hip surgery 20 months ago, bowed out after a 6-2 6-3 6-4 defeat.
The two-time Wimbledon champion, 33, had run himself into the ground in a four-and-a-half hour, five-set marathon against Yoshihito Nishioka on Tuesday.
And a hard-running, hard-hitting 20-year-old was his opponent just two days later, with a match against Dan Evans or Corentin Moutet awaiting the winner.
Murray knew what he was up against just 10 minutes into the match, after Auger-Aliassime held serve to love before securing a break in game two.
Andy Murray shows mettle to win ‘hardest match of my career’
Murray had earmarked Auger-Aliassime’s serve as a weakness in his game, but it was impeccable. Murray, one of the finest returners the sport has ever seen, did not create a single break point.
Auger-Aliassime ran away with the first set in 41 minutes, the youngster hitting 18 winners to Murray’s one.
Even Murray at his peak, without the beaten up toes and exhausted body which left him desperate for an ice bath after his exertions against Nishioka, might have struggled to chase down some of the ground strokes exploding off the 15th seed’s racket.
Murray stayed in the second set until 3-4, when Auger-Aliassime secured another break before booming down an ace to go 2-0 up.
Unlike the scene 48 hours ago, this time there was to be no heroic fightback. There was simply not enough left in the tank.
In 2011 Auger-Aliassime had watched from the Arthur Ashe stands as Murray beat Feliciano Lopez en route to the semi-finals.
Nine years on, at the same venue, he found what was arguably a career-best performance to stub out the former world number one’s hopes of a second Open title.