NEW YORK — The earliest real signs of trouble for Andy Murray came in the 10th game of his U.S. Open quarterfinal.
For 22 points stretched over 15 excruciating minutes Thursday, Murray’s body language was as poor as his play.
When the 2012 champion pushed a simple forehand into the net, he smacked his palm against his forehead, once, twice, three times.
When he left a similarly routine forehand too low, he mocked his footwork by pressing one shoe atop the other. When he sailed a later forehand long, he rolled his eyes and muttered. When he delivered his second double-fault, he swiped the court with his racket.
And when he rushed yet another forehand on break point, No. 6 of that key game — the ball drifting long to cede a set to his far-less-accomplished opponent, ninth-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka — Murray cracked his racket on the court. He trudged to his changeover chair and whacked the racket again, mangling the frame.
Trying to defend a Grand Slam title for the first time, and not quite two months removed from his historic Wimbledon championship, a drained Murray bowed out quickly, if not quietly, at Flushing Meadows, losing 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 to Wawrinka in a result that was surprising both because of who won and by how much.
“I have had a good run the last couple of years,” said the third-seeded Murray. “It’s a shame I had to play a bad match today.”
The first Grand Slam semifinal of Wawrinka’s career, in his 35th appearance, will come Saturday against No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the 2011 U.S. Open champion. Djokovic overcame a third-set lull and beat 21st-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0, to reach the semifinals in New York for the seventh year in a row. It’s also the 14th consecutive Grand Slam tournament where Djokovic is in the semifinals, a 31/2-year streak.
“Level of confidence is right at the top, very close, because I have been playing most of my matches here very aggressive, very dominantly,” Djokovic said. “I have been very satisfied with my performances overall in the whole tournament so far. And even tonight, even though I dropped a set, I feel I was in control.”
The other semifinal is No. 2 Rafael Nadal against No. 8 Richard Gasquet.
At age 28, Wawrinka finally made it further at a major tournament than his Swiss Olympic teammate and good friend, Roger Federer, who lost in the fourth round and sent a congratulatory text to Wawrinka after his breakthrough victory.
“Today, for sure, it’s my moment,” Wawrinka said.
He did it with his fluid, one-handed backhand, and by taking full advantage of Murray’s mistakes, but also by playing an aggressive, attacking style. Wawrinka won nine out of 10 points when he serve-and-volleyed. He rushed the net in general, taking 31 out of 42 points when he moved forward. Most of all, he never allowed the occasion or the opportunity to overwhelm him.
Asked what part of his performance made him the most proud, Wawrinka said: “How I was dealing with the pressure. Normally, I can be a little bit nervous and I can lose (a) few games because of that.”
In men’s doubles, with history on the line, the Bryan brothers fell short.
Trying to become only the second men’s doubles team to win all four Grand Slam tournaments in a single year, Bob and Mike Bryan lost, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, to Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek in the semifinals.
“As competitors, we hate to lose and we knew what was riding on this match and the opportunity of what we could have accomplished,” Bob Bryan said. “And then in one sense, it’s a little bit of a relief where you get to kind of exhale for the first time in a few months.”
For nearly 12 months, a span that included 28 consecutive wins in Grand Slam matches, seemingly every bounce went the Bryans’ way. It put them two wins away from joining the 1951 Aussie team of Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman as the second to capture the calendar Slam in men’s doubles.