Andy Murray avoided any first round drama for the fifteenth consecutive time at a Grand Slam event, with a convincing and expeditious 7-6 6-2 6-3 victory against Somdev Devvarman.
The British number one struck the ball impressively all match, but he was fully tested by his opponent which made for an entertaining and tactical battle on Arthur Ashe. Stepping onto the court resembling a roulette wheel, resplendent in red and black with a tinge of green, you would put your money on Murray going deep into the tournament on the evidence of this performance.
After surrendering serve in the very first game, Murray refused to panic and showed great determination to outlast Devvarman who was displaying some moments of brilliance up at the net. Devvarman clearly lacks a killer weapon, but his foot speed and agility, coupled with solid groundstrokes off both wings were providing a stern test early on. After a few near misses, Murray finally broke back but it would take a first set tie-break to separate the pair.
At 3-1 down, the world number four did exceptionally well to capitalise on a Devverman double fault, and remained composed to win the tie-break, 7-5. At just over seventy minutes, the opening set had been a bruising affair, full of punishing rallies.
Service breaks were exchanged at the start of the second, but then, predictably, Devverman’s level began to drop. The Indian had been punching above his weight, and when his guard went down, Murray started to land some trademark blows with his revered double handed backhand. With both his first serve and return clicking, the Scot quickly raced to a two set lead.
Momentum carried unabated into the third set, and the gulf in class started to become overwhelmingly apparent. Murray, undoubtedly in a more relaxed frame of mind, started to unwind with both forehand and backhand, and the results were devastating. It is rare to see the Briton display such sparkling tennis in the early stages of a Grand Slam, but at the same time, there are signs that there is more to come. This match was an excellent exercise in timing and patience, and will have provided the fourth seed with a solid rhythm, that he can carry through to his next match.
Devvarman’s intensity of shot had started to waver by the end of the third set. The world number sixty-two did well to break his more illustrious opponent when he was serving for the match, but ultimately, he could not stop the 2008 runner-up from coasting to victory in just under two and a half hours. Job done, and a lengthy battle of attrition in the blazing heat of New York, avoided.
Next up for Murray in the second round is Robin Haase, the mercurial Dutchman. Haase is a powerful striker of the ball, akin to that of Robin Soderling and will provide a stern test on this surface, even if it is playing slower than last year. Weather permitting, the two will meet on Friday at a time to be confirmed.Murray's post match interview:
I started slow but I improved over the course of the match. The main thing is to try and improve as the tournament goes on. The conditions were very breezy which allowed me to step onto the baseline.
Haase will be a tough match, he almost beat Rafa at Wimbledon a few years ago. He is a big match player.