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Associated Press
Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland reacts after winning a game against Andy Murray during the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open on Thursday.

Murray bounced in Open quarterfinals

– 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 ground 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. Not satisfied, 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, 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, who shook his hands in front of his face and screamed after dropping the second set. “It’s a shame I had to play a bad match today.”

He managed only 15 winners, 30 fewer than Wawrinka. He tapped in second serves as slow as 75 mph, allowing Wawrinka to hit four return winners and easily take control of countless other points. Murray, one of the sport’s top returners, never earned a single break point during any of Wawrinka’s 14 service games.

“I didn’t get into enough return games, which is disappointing for me,” said Murray, who had won 30 of his preceding 32 Grand Slam matches. “That’s normally something I do pretty well. I always give myself opportunities to break serve, and I didn’t today.”

Give Wawrinka credit – something Murray made sure to do.

Wawrinka reached his first career Grand Slam semifinal in his 35th appearance, at age 28. He also 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.

Top-seeded Novak Djokovic quickly overcame a one-set lull to reach the semifinals for the seventh consecutive year, beating 21st-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0.

Djokovic, the 2011 champion at Flushing Meadows, won his first four matches of the tournament in straight sets. But he made 16 unforced errors and was broken twice. Djokovic next faces Wawrinka.

The other men’s semifinal Saturday will be No. 2 Rafael Nadal against No. 8 Richard Gasquet.

The women’s semifinals are today, with No. 1 Serena Williams vs. No. 5 Li Na, and No. 2 Victoria Azarenka vs. unseeded Flavia Pennetta. Williams owns 16 Grand Slam titles; the other women own three combined.

Meanwhile in doubles action, Venus and Serena Williams knocked out the defending champion and top-seeded team of Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani 6-3, 6-1 to advance to the semis. The Williams sisters are two wins away from their 14th Grand Slam tournament title.

Their victory in Armstrong Stadium finished less than an hour after Americans Bob and Mike Bryan had their quest for the calendar Grand Slam halted next door in Arthur Ashe Stadium. The Bryans fell 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek.

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