Honesty has always been one of Andy Murray’s biggest strengths and after his second-round defeat to Grigor Dimitrov at the US Open yesterday, the Scot admitted that his time as a contender for Grand Slam titles may be a thing of the past.

The Scot’s 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 defeat by Dimitrov, the No 19 seed, was as one-sided as it sounds - his heaviest ever at the US Open in terms of games won - even if Murray rued a series of missed break point chances and half-chances that, had he taken them, might have made a difference.

But after looking good in his opening-round win over Corentin Moutet, Murray never found his A-game, never looked quite right and was well-beaten in the end by an opponent who played superbly throughout.

Murray has repeatedly stated this year that if things fall his way, he can go deep in a Grand Slam. But after the manner of his defeat by Dimitrov, it’s clear there are doubts.

“It's obviously disappointing to not play how you would like,” he said. “But maybe I need to accept that these events, the deep runs and everything that I felt like I'm capable of, they might not be there, as well.

“I'm aware what I'm doing, it's unbelievably challenging to play at the highest level as I am now. And some days it's harder than others. But today is obviously a really disappointing defeat and probably the manner of it as well. I fought hard enough, I just didn't play well enough.

“Ultimately these are the events that you want to play your best tennis in, and, you know, create more great moments and didn't do that this year.”

Despite receiving a warm reception from the sparse crowd that greeted him as he walked onto the Arthur Ashe Stadium court, Murray began the match in listless fashion, looking flat. Eight of the first nine points went to Dimitrov as he led 2-0.

The third and fourth games were mini epics of their own, each lasting 15 minutes, each containing some lung-busting rallies, each drawing gasps from the crowd.

One point, at 0-2, deuce, saw Murray sprint forward as of old, chasing down a shot from Dimitrov that hit the net and bounced high in the air, right by the net, before flicking the ball across the court on an angle for a winner.

Murray and Dimitrov tapped rackets in mutual appreciation but though Murray went on to level for 2-2 and had a break point for 3-2, in truth, that was as close as the two players came for the rest of the match.

Eleven years after his triumph here, and four and a half years after having a metal hip inserted, Murray served poorly, hitting just two aces and seven double faults, never able to get the free points he needed to relax.

A loose game, with two double faults, gave Dimitrov a 5-3 lead and he served out for the set after a gruelling 63 minutes.

Both players were breathing heavily in the warm, humid conditions and perhaps that was Murray’s plan, to make it a physical battle against a man he had beaten eight times out of 11 in the past.

But Murray’s game was not there. He spent much of the second set chuntering toward his team, asking them to react: “I need something,” he said. “Anything’s better than nothing”.

Dimitrov broke serve in the first game of the second set and once Murray had missed a break back point at 4-3, Dimitrov went on to serve it out. “I never had the momentum,” Murray said later.

The third set was a similar story initially as Dimitrov broke in the first game only for Murray to break back, before losing his serve again from 30-0 up.

Dimitrov duly eased through the rest of the set and it was fitting, in some ways, that Murray should end the match with a double fault.

His ranking will slip slightly after the US Open but at No 40, he’s still close to his goal of being seeded for slams, inside the top 32.

At Wimbledon, after losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas, Murray was utterly dejected, gutted at missing a chance to make a run. Here he was disappointed with his performance, but said he still has motivation to carry on.

“I've obviously been progressing this year from a ranking perspective,” he said. “I had some great matches in Australia, quite a few amazing matches at the beginning of the year really. I think I was close to having a good run at Wimbledon.

“I still enjoy everything that goes into playing at a high level. I enjoy the work, the training and trying to improve and trying to get better, I do still enjoy that.

“That's what keeps me going. If things change and I stop enjoying that or my results, my ranking and everything start to go backwards, or in a few months' time I was ranked 60 in the world or whatever, instead of moving up, things might change.”

Elsewhere, Britain’s Jack Draper produced a big upset as he knocked off the No 11 seed, Hubert Hurkacz, 6-2, 6-4, 7-5 to equal his third-round run of last year.

Considering that he regarded himself as 70-30 not to play here after struggling to overcome the shoulder tear which caused him to miss Wimbledon, Draper’s run is a surprise.

Hurkacz said afterwards that he had been feeling under the weather but the 21-year-old has looked strong in both his matches and now plays American Michael Mmoh, who beat John Isner in a fifth-set tiebreak, the last match of Isner’s long career.

“It's weird how this sport works,” Draper said. “Sometimes you can be at your lowest point and then all of a sudden, you get on a bit of form, you're playing greatyou’re your body feels good.

“Hopefully, touch wood, this is going to be the start of something.”

Katie Boulter reached the third round for the first time after edging out Chinese qualifier Yafan Wang 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 but Jodie Burrage's run ended, losing 6-3, 6-2 to No 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka.