More hard times in New York Town
Ernests returned under the dazzling lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium today only to suffer another heartbreaking defeat to the US Open second seed, Andy Murray.
He stood toe-to-toe with Murray for most of the match, but unfortunately was second best on many of the important points.
He was broken in the first set to trail 2:4, but broke Murray back immediately with a sensational forehand, much to the delight of the crowd.
At 5-all, Ernests scored his second break point with a phenomenal lobbed winner, but was unable to capitalise on the opportunity as Murray managed to hold serve for 6:5.
Perhaps still disappointed by the missed break point, Ernests temporarily lost his concentration to allow Murray three break/set points.
He recovered to save all three of them but slipped up once again to offer Murray another set point, which the Scot successfully converted to capture the first set, 7:5.
Ernests started the second set in poor fashion after a failed dropshot attempt stranded him with three break points against him. He saved the first with a volley winner but was unable to save the second, thus handing Murray a 2:0 lead.
A netted volley by Murray off an Ernests passing shot offered three break back points, but strong serving by the second seed saved the day for him as he held serve to lead 4:1.
However, perseverance paid off for Ernests as he earned another set of triple break points two games later, which he converted to return on serve at 3:4.
Alas, he was unable to sustain the momentum and was broken back immediately for 3:5, allowing Murray to serve out the second set in the next game.
With Murray just one set away from the match, tensions ran high in the third set as both players seemed to realise what was at stake.
The set went on serve until 5:5, where Ernests found himself having to fight off break points despite having a 40-15 lead initially.
He managed to scramble back to game point but a poorly judged forehand error sent the score back to deuce.
Murray, as if sensing the opportunity in the air, upped his class to out-manoeuvre Ernests like a wily cat to score the lone, vital break of this set.
With the 6:5 lead on his racquet, Murray needed no second chances as he successfully served out the match to catapult himself into the second round.
As for Ernests, this loss will see him drop 70 ranking points, a deficit he could ill afford given his currently tenuous hold on the Top 100.
He has been announced to play in Latvia’s Davis Cup tie against Slovenia on 18-20 September, but to date has not signed up for any other tournament, both ATP or Challenger-level.