NEW YORK — Andy Murray stumbled at the end of the first set, dropping four points in a row. He faltered for a fleeting moment at the end of the second set, too, missing a simple volley after his opponent’s between-the-legs shot.
What truly mattered most in Murray’s fourth-round match at the U.S. Open, of course, was the ultimate result, and the defending champion wound up beating 65th-ranked Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 on a windy Tuesday night.
The third-seeded Murray reached the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows for the third consecutive year.
“Might not be that easy to see from the side, but in the court, there was a strong breeze. We were both struggling with the timing, but I thought we played some entertaining points,” Murray said. “Sometimes when it’s very breezy like that, you can get some fun points.”
He was 0-4 in Grand Slam finals until his title at last year’s U.S. Open. He added a second major championship this July by becoming the first British man since 1936 to win Wimbledon.
Now Murray will play No. 9 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland, who reached his second U.S. Open quarterfinal by eliminating No. 5 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (6), 6-2.
Istomin was making his debut in the fourth round at a major tournament Tuesday, and trying to become the first player from his country to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal. His power-based game occasionally gave Murray fits under the lights in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Notably, Murray came apart after leading 5-3 in the opening-set tiebreaker.
“He’s very tough. Very talented,” Murray said. “We played once on this court when we were much younger. But a lot has changed since then.”