Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

US Open: Andy Murray beats Michael Llodra to secure second round place

Andy Murray, of Britain, chases down a return against Michael Llodra, of France, during the first round of the 2013 U.S. Open tennis tournament, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, in New York. Murray defeated Llodra. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Andy Murray, of Britain, chases down a return against Michael Llodra, of France, during the first round of the 2013 U.S. Open tennis tournament, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, in New York. Murray defeated Llodra. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

A long and frustrating day ended in a short and sweet victory for Andy Murray as the Scot finally began the defence of his US Open title.

After a rain-interrupted day Murray did not get on court until just before 10pm, but the world No 3 wasted little time booking his place in the second round with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 victory over France’s Michael Llodra.

It was Murray’s first appearance here since his victory in last year’s final against Novak Djokovic, when he claimed his maiden Grand Slam title. “It was really special,” Murray said after making a winning return to Arthur Ashe Stadium. “Last year when I won I was in a bit of shock and I wasn’t able to enjoy the moment as much as I would have liked. This year I’ve really enjoyed coming back on to this court.”

Murray will now play Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer, who beat Victor Hanescu 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6. Murray won his only previous meeting with Mayer, the world No 81, in Valencia four years ago.

As if having to wait until the evening of the third day to play his opening match was not frustrating enough, Murray endured an even longer delay as rain disrupted the programme. At least he got on court. The defending women’s champion, Serena Williams, who was due to play the last match of the afternoon session, was told she would have to come back 24 hours later to face Galina Voskoboeva.

Murray said afterwards that the scheduling was “not ideal”. He pointed out that those players who completed their opening matches on Monday will have had two days of rest before their second-round encounters, whereas those who were required to play late on the Wednesday would have significantly less time to prepare for their next outing.

The match was scheduled to open the evening session in Arthur Ashe Stadium at 7pm, but a combination of the rain and Juan Martin del Potro’s drawn-out victory over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez meant it did not start until nearly three hours later.

Murray was clearly in no mood to hang around. The Scot looked sharp from the very first point and broke in the opening game when his pressure forced Llodra into a backhand error. A second break enabled Murray to serve out for the first set at 5-2, which he did after just 26 minutes.

Llodra enjoyed his best spell of the match early in the second set, when he went 3-0 up, but Murray won the next five games in a row to restore order. The Scot broke to lead 2-1 in the third set and by the end Llodra had to resort to extreme measures. At 0-30 in the final game he hit an underarm serve and when Murray lobbed him on match point he threw his racket into the air as the ball sailed over his head.