Andy Murray’s match is held up after JUMBO tennis balls are thrown on court by eco-clowns… before Scot loses three-hour epic against top seed Taylor Fritz in Washington
- Andy Murray had break points for a 4-2 lead in the deciding set on Friday
- But Taylor Fritz managed to repel all three and went on to wrap up win
- Friday’s encounter was briefly held up by a group of rowdy protesters
Andy Murray’s three-hour marathon against world No 9 Taylor Fritz in the last 16 of the Citi Open was marred by antics from eco-protesters on Friday night.
The tournament, held in Washington, became the latest sporting event to be spoiled by environmental activists – who have made a continued effort to disrupt this summer’s spectacles.
Activists had already launched protests at the World Snooker Championships, Wimbledon, the Ashes and, most recently, The Open Championship this summer.
And they continued their trend of interrupting sporting events by launching giant tennis balls onto the court before they were escorted from the stand in Washington.
Despite the distractions, Murray looked on the brink of another of his occasional statement wins since his comeback from hip surgery when he had break points for a 4-2 lead in the deciding set.
Andy Murray’s match with Taylor Fritz was held up after jumbo tennis balls were thrown on court by climate protesters during the Citi Open on Friday
The climate activists displayed a banner that read ‘business as usual is a climate disaster’
Andy Murray came up just short in a three-hour marathon against world No 9 Taylor Fritz
But Fritz, the top seed and American No 1, managed to repel all three and went on to wrap up his 40th win in 2023, 6-7, 6-3 6-4.
Murray had already smashed his racket against the floor after dropping serve in the first game, throwing in two double-faults among six unforced errors.
The Scot had been a point away from a 3-0 deficit but improved as the set wore on and broke back for 5-5 as Fritz served for it, saving two set points before converting his first break point with a drop shot.
Murray dominated the tie-break with Fritz now showing his frustration, and he took the set after 87 minutes with an almost dismissive forehand winner.
But Fritz locked straight back in to break at the start of the second on his way to levelling the match.
Fritz survived those break points at 2-3 in the decider and then a Murray double-fault gifted the 25-year-old three chances to break, taking the second when Murray’s backhand drifted long.
Friday’s encounter in Washington was briefly held up by a group of rowdy protesters
In a dramatic final game, Murray brought up three break-back points at 40-0, Fritz survived the lot and then squandered two match points before converting the third.
Dan Evans had lost eight of his last nine matches before arriving in Washington but the British number two made it two wins in two by beating Russia’s Alexander Shevchenko 6-4 6-3.
Evans will have to play his last-eight match later in the day after rain saw his and Murray’s matches cancelled on Thursday.