Andy Murray opened the schedule on the Louis Armstrong Court on the first day of the 2022 US Open and set an example for his compatriots to follow, by defeating the 24th seed, Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo, in straight sets in what is his 17th appearance at Flushing Meadows, a decade after he actually won the title.
It was really tricky conditions out there. At the beginning it was actually OK, but towards the end it was really getting pretty hot and humid. I thought I did a pretty good job out there. Could have closed some of the sets quicker, but overall, it was a solid performance Andy Murray
And he was satisfied with his performance saying after he had pocketed a relative comfortable 7-5 6-3 6-3 victory on his third match point, by saying, in his post-match interview, that he had given himself a pat on the back.
At the start there were plenty of concerns in what were hot and humid conditions which might lead to more of the cramping he had been experiencing, especially in Cincinnati, where he was virtually helped off the court. Subsequently his team has been trying, unsuccessfully, to get to the bottom of the problem even to the extent that Murray asked the umpire to ensure the ball-boys didn’t remove the empty bottles as he wanted to monitor his fluid levels during the match.
As it turned out he needn’t have worried. There were no signs of cramping and as he moved around the court smoothly over the two-hours and 50- minutes he was kept out there.
“Mentally it’s not easy going into a five-set match in those conditions after the way the last few weeks have been for me, and I did well,” Murray said after is win.
“I did well physically and mentally to put that to the back of my mind and find a way to get through. So I was really happy with that.
“It was really tricky conditions out there. At the beginning it was actually OK, but towards the end it was really getting pretty hot and humid. I thought I did a pretty good job out there. Could have closed some of the sets quicker, but overall, it was a solid performance.
“It’s obviously nice any time, especially in those conditions and early on in a Slam, to get through in straight sets. He’s a top player and he’s probably only getting better, as well. It was a good win for me.”
As far as the 24-year-old Cerundolo was concerned, it was a frustrating match. He just couldn’t get to grips with Murray’s game although he gave the Brit a bit of a run in the opening set but once Murray claimed it after failing to serve out with a loose service game, he turned the match on its head sweeping into a 5-0 lead in the second from 5-5 in the first.
However, despite dominating in the second and third sets, Murray failed to push through as Cerundolo, who hadn’t won a Grand Slam match, fought back with some mini runs of his own.
Murray also praised his opponent’s sportsmanship in giving him a point in the 10th game of the first set after the umpire missed a double bounce as Cerundolo scrambled to get to a drop volley.
Having already given the point to the Argentine, the umpire was powerless to overturn his decision but, after two slow motion replays on the big screen overlooking the court and the crowd’s
reaction, Cerundolo conceded the point.
“What he did was brilliant, and I don’t think that loads of players on the tour would have done that,” Murray said of the incident. “Fair play to him. And I said that to him at the net.”
Murray has not been beyond the second round in New York since 2016 but appears to have a good chance here with wild card Emilio Nava up next, the American who needed five sets to defeat Aussie John Millman 7-6(7) 4-6 7-6(4) 1-6 6-1.
“I actually hit with him a couple days ago, so it was good to get on the court with him,” said Murray.
“I saw a little bit of his match today but actually being on the court with someone and feeling their shots is helpful when you don’t know loads about them.”
Meanwhile out on Court 12, Kyle Edmund took on the fifth seed from Norway, Casper Ruud and while he showed signs of the player who had reached the world’s top 20 before undergoing three knee surgeries, he couldn’t match the power of the Norwegian to go down 6-3 7-5 6-2.
Edmund hadn’t played a singles match at a major since the US Open in 2020 before taking time off to get his knee repaired and only returned to the Tour gingerly earlier this summer.
It certainly wasn’t an easy draw for the former British No.1 who used his thumping forehand to great effect but it was more than matched by Ruud’s.
After losing the opening set, Edmund threatened a comeback when he fought back from a break down to make it 5-5 in the second, but the 27-year-old could not find the dominance on serve that he needed and was ultimately too error prone to really trouble Ruud.
Finally on the British front in the men’s draw, Jack Draper joined Murray in Round two on his debut at the US Open.
He defeated Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori 6-4 6-3 6-3 out on Court 9 with an impressive performance against a player who has himself grown in stature over the past year, albeit not as quickly as Draper who is fast becoming a player most now want to avoid!
“It’s my third grand slam, second on merit,” said the 20-year-old Draper. “I’d say it’s a really important win for me. He had me at Queen’s, he played an incredible match there, so there were definitely doubts in my mind before the match.
“But I was proud of the way I handled my first time here; thought I played a solid match. I think I can still improve tennis wise but mentally and physically it was a good performance.”
Next up for the British No.4 is the sixth seeded Canadian, Felix Auger-Aliassime who required four sets to get past Swiss qualifier Alexander Ritschard 6-3 6-4 3-6 6-3.
Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans will be in action on Tuesday, and both should be joining Murray and Draper in round two.