US Open 2015: Murray dampens Kyrgios fire to advance with Federer and Wawrinka
Andy Murray beats Nick Kyrgios to reach the second round of the US Open, as Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka also win
It had become the talk of the US Open as soon as the men’s draw was made, this first-round match between the explosive talent of Nick Kyrgios and the 2012 champion and No3 seed Andy Murray.
As recently as this June, Kyrgios had reached a career-high ranking of 25 in a year that began with a stand-out quarter-final run at his home Major in Australia. There, he met Murray and lost in straight sets, and it was the same story in their third-round meeting at Roland Garros. Indeed Murray had not lost a set in three previous meetings. But here was a player who had beaten Roger Federer in three thrilling tie-breaks in Madrid. He had also taken the scalp of a struggling Rafael Nadal on his way to the Wimbledon quarter-finals last year.
But Murray arrived in New York in up-beat mood—he is to become a father in the New Year—and in fine form—he beat world No1 Novak Djokovic for the first time after eight straight losses to win the Montreal Masters.
But this was a bigger test than Murray may have expected in the first round, brought about by a drop in Kyrgios’s ranking to 37 and thus unseeded for the final Grand Slam of the year. And such is the style of the 20-year-old’s tennis—big, creative, varied and unpredictable—and such his back-story—for twice in as many months Kyrgios had drawn more than a few raised eyebrows at his on-court behaviour—that this match was guaranteed to pack out the vast Arthur Ashe arena come Tuesday night.
As anticipated, the tennis produced some fireworks that had the crowds on their feet: At 3-3 in the first set, Kyrgios played a cheeky tweener back into play and then pounded in to make sizzling forehand winner. He won the point but not the game.
It was a similar story as he fought off a break point at 4-5, this time a drop shot and then a forehand winner to hold. But Murray was more than up to the task, and a pitch-perfect lob to open and a backhand return of serve winner finally did bring the break and the set, 7-5
Murray opened clear water in the second set, though not before facing break points in the fifth game. He broke for 4-2 and served it out, 6-3. Not that Kyrgios looked too concerned: He took to lounging back in his seat at the change of ends as though watching a movie back home. And he came out of the blocks like a whirlwind in the third set.
Kyrgios broke in the second game, Murray levelled again, but the Australian took advantage of a weak service game from the Briton to bring up three break points—and set points—at 5-4. Murray obliged with a double fault to drop his first ever set against Kyrgios.
Murray, though, remained calm, kept things at a steady pace, defended as few other players can, and broke to love in the opening game of the fourth set: He did not look back. Kyrgios won the third game in the set but could find little to counter the strength and focus of Murray, and the Briton advanced to a second-round meeting against Adrian Mannarino, 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1.
Murray was content with his performance—rightly so with 18 aces among his 46 winners, and only two double faults among just 23 unforced errors.
“I felt like I served pretty well for the most part, got a lot of returns back in play, and tried to make it difficult for him, but it was tough. I had to do a lot of defending and a lot of running in very difficult conditions.”
He had, in fact, run almost 3km, and that threw into stark relief the previous match on Arthur Ashe between No2 seed Federer and the world No33 Leonardo Mayer. On paper, this was also a tough opener for the five-time former champion, especially so since Mayer had failed to convert five match points against Federer in Shanghai in their last meeting.
But the stats spoke volumes in Federer’s 77 minute trouncing of the Argentine, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. The Swiss ran little more than 1km, attacking not only on his own serve but, as he had done to such effect in winning the Cincinnati title over Djokovic, but on his opponent’s. He made 29 winners for only 13 errors and played 24 points at the net.
At 34, he looks relaxed and determined in equal measure, at times almost casual, at others explosive—witness the flying smash to close out the second set. Had the Arthur Ashe arena’s roof been complete, the roar of New York would have taken it off.
“You just don’t know how these matches are played out. Looking ahead, it definitely looked like a very tough draw in the first round. But then again, today was much faster than Shanghai. It’s a different place and different conditions. It allowed me to play fast-court tennis against him, which wasn’t really the case in Shanghai.
“I’m playing very well at the moment. Playing with confidence. Got off to a good start.”
Federer now plays Steve Darcis, who progressed when Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis retired hurt, 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-2, 3-1.
Elsewhere, Nicolas Mahut beat Sam Querrey 7-5, 7-6(6), 7-5, while the No31 seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez fought back from two sets to one down to beat Janko Tipsarevic 7-6(4), 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Sixth seed Tomas Berdych, who could meet Federer in the quarters, beat Bjorn Fratangelo in just 1hr 40mins, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. John Isner, who is lined up for Federer in the fourth round, beat Malek Jaziri 6-2, 6-3, 6-4.
One of Murray’s potential quarter-final opponents, No11 Gilles Simon, made an unexpected exit to Donald Young, 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, but another of Murray’s scheduled quarter-final opponents, French Open champion and No5 seed Stan Wawrinka, produced some jaw-dropping winners against a feisty Albert Ramos-Vinolas to advance in straight sets with 53 winners, 7-5, 6-4, 7-6.