The US Open could have a retractable roof installed over Arthur Ashe Stadium within three years, but tournament officials must be wishing it was already in place.
The weather has played havoc with the year’s final Grand Slam event in recent times, with the tournament spilling into a third week for the last five years, and some rain is forecast every day here for the next week. Roger Federer was one of the first to suffer as his opening match against Slovenia’s Grega Zemlja was called off on Monday night because of rain and rescheduled for Tuesday.
As if the weather was not enough of a problem, the tournament allows itself little leeway with its scheduling. With the men’s first round spread over three days, Andy Murray is not due to begin the defence of his title until Wednesday. In theory there is still time for the Scot to have a rest day between each round, but there is already no room for manoeuvre.
At least the late start has given Murray extra time to prepare for an opening match against a potentially tricky opponent. Michael Llodra is an old-school serve-and-volley man who on his day, particularly on a fast court, can trouble the very best, although Murray has won all three of their previous meetings.
Llodra, who has been troubled by a knee injury recently, said he would stick to his attacking game, despite the fact that Murray is one of the best returners. “I played him last year in Australia in the third round and it was difficult for me,” the 33-year-old Frenchman said. “I’ll try to mix things up a little bit.”
Llodra plans to retire at the end of next year, when he expects to devote more time to his wine interests. The world No 49 recently opened a wine bar in Dijon with Arnaud Clement, France’s Davis Cup captain, and owns a small vineyard, producing 5,000 premier cru bottles a year, in Gevrey-Chambertin, Burgundy.
If Llodra the tennis player was a bottle of wine, what did he think he would be? “I would be a wine from the Rhone Valley, something like a Cote-Rotie,” he said with a smile. “Some years it’s good and some years it’s bad!”
And what would Murray be? “Probably a sweet wine - a Sauternes, like a Chateau d’Yquem. Because when you watch him you have to have a big weapon. But when you’re on the court against him you can feel that it’s impossible to move him or to win the point. It’s not easy. When you watch him on TV you can see that he doesn’t have a really big weapon, but when you’re on the court you can feel something strong from him.”