Andy Murray began his US Open campaign with a convincing 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 win over 49th-ranked Michael Llodra under the lights.
The defending champion had to wait until Wednesday’s evening session to play his first match. A rain delay held back the day session so it wasn’t until 9.55pm local time that the players took to the court: the third-latest start for a US Open evening session in recorded history.
The 33-year-old Frenchman is one of the few serve-and-volley players left on the tour. It’s a style that Murray is very comfortable with as it plays to his return of serve strengths. The world number 3 looked sharp from the outset, making only 5 unforced errors. Apart from a minor second-set blip he faced few problems in advancing to round 2, moving very well and producing accurate passing shots to counteract Llodra’s net-rushing game.
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Murray got off to the perfect start. One of many entertaining exchanges at the net set up two break points; Llodra saved one with a big serve but sent a backhand long on the second. An ill-timed double fault from the Frenchman in the seventh game gave Murray a double-break advantage, and he duly served out a 6-2 set.
The world number 3 had seemed in control at this point, but a temporary loss of focus saw him concede an early break to trail 0-2. But he responded well, breaking back with precision passing shots that stranded Llodra at the net. Murray broke again to lead *4-3 and comfortably closed out a 6-4 set.
In the third set, Murray’s breakthrough came in the third game. Llodra netted his backhand, bringing up two break points: the second was converted with a crunching crosscourt backhand return. The Brit was untroubled on serve, apart from having to save a break point at *4-3.
Serving at *3-5, 0-30, with all hope of a comeback gone, the flamboyant Frenchman resorted to entertaining the crowd, surprising everyone by serving underarm. Murray was unfazed, going on to claim victory with a pinpoint accurate lob that sailed over the Parisian’s head.
Murray will next play Argentine Leonardo Mayer who beat Victor Hanescu in four sets.