Andy Murray this morning described the scheduling that saw him open his US Open defence late on Wednesday night as “not ideal”.
The third seed and opponent Michael Llodra were the last players to get on court in the first round, but Murray made sure they were not the latest to finish with a sharp and swift 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 victory on Arthur Ashe.
The US Open is the only grand slam tournament that carries the first round into the Wednesday, but usually all the matches are played in the day session. However, a knock-on effect of the rain on Monday night meant the second-round match they had intended to put on – Rafael Nadal against Rogerio Dutra Silva – had to be held back because otherwise the Brazilian would have played for three days in a row.
Nadal, one of Murray’s main rivals for the title, played his first-round match more than 48 hours earlier, while Novak Djokovic, who is a potential semi-final opponent for the Scot, played on Tuesday.
Murray said: “I think playing at that time for your first round is not ideal. That’s it. I’m not going into any more detail than that. It’s just not ideal.
It’s not whether it’s me, it’s anyone. Just because I won last year, it’s nothing to do with that. For the guys that have to play this evening. You have guys that have two days off between matches.
“We were asked on Saturday, ‘Would you like to play on Tuesday or Wednesday’? We said Tuesday. They then told us the next day, ‘It’s looking like it’s going to be Wednesday’. Okay, cool. It will be during the day on Wednesday.
“Yesterday, as we were leaving at 3pm we were told, ‘It’s looking like you’re going to be playing in the evening’. Then we had to come back last night to practise under the lights, and it just changes your preparation for the match.”
The weather certainly did not help, with more than four a half hours lost to rain earlier in the day. A four-hour clash between Juan Martin del Potro and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez then held up Murray and Llodra even further and it was nearly 10pm (3am BST) by the time they played their first point.
The statistics show this was a near-perfect start for the third seed, however, who made only five unforced errors in the match and hit 34 winners.
Llodra’s all-out commitment to attack certainly helped, and it made for an entertaining clash. Murray made the perfect start with more than a little help from his opponent, Llodra playing a shocking game to drop his serve straight away.
The 33-year-old is that rare thing in modern tennis, a serve-volleyer, and his attacking game could have caused Murray problems if the Scot showed too many first-night nerves.
But he looked sharp and another Llodra double fault gave him a 5-2 lead, which quickly became the first set.
The Frenchman had only won one set against Murray in three previous matches, but he made a flying start to the second, winning the first three games.
Murray responded with five games in a row and with barely an hour played was a set away from victory having made just one unforced error.
The third set was tighter and not quite at the same standard from Murray, but he got the break early and he saved a break point to lead 5-3.
Llodra had tried everything, including, for one point, an underarm serve.
Murray said: “It was a good match. The rallies were quick; sharp. There wasn’t much time between points. He was playing quickly on his serves. It was a fairly, I thought, high-standard match.
There were lots of reaction shots and drop shots, and it definitely tested my movement. I thought I moved well. I didn’t make too many errors.”
Murray pumped his fist in mock defiance after winning a point where Llodra served underarm, which was a first for the Scot. “I don’t remember that on tour,” he said. “And that was a really good one, as well.”
Murray faces Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer on Friday.