Wednesday 13 November 2019

US Open: Andy Murray in second straight sets victory

ANDY Murray is in a hurry. The 25-year-old Scot became the first man to reach the third round of the US Open here last night when he recorded his second successive straight-sets victory of the tournament.

Just as in his opening encounter against Alex Bogomolov, the world No 4 never looked in any danger. Having coasted to a 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 victory over Ivan Dodig, he now faces the winner of today’s all-Spanish meeting between Feliciano Lopez and Pablo Andujar.

Although Dodig has fallen to No 118 in the world rankings after injury problems, the 27-year-old Croatian remains a threat. He has beaten both Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the last 13 months and his speed around the court keeps opponents on their toes. He likes to get into the net and volleys well, with drop volleys a particular speciality.

Murray, nevertheless, had more than enough weapons at his disposal to fend off the Croatian. He served well, hitting 10 aces and losing only five of the 42 points when his first serve found the target. The Scot has long been recognised as one of the best returners in the game and regularly had Dodig in trouble on his serve. Murray forced nine break points and converted six of them.

“I thought I played well,” Murray said afterwards. “There were a lot of long rallies. I moved my feet pretty well tonight, played well. He moves incredibly well. He’s very quick around the court and you always need to play an extra shot against him.”

Dodig was facing an uphill task from the opening game, in which he had to save a break point. He was broken for the first time two games later as Murray forced him into two successive forehand errors. Another break followed in the seventh game when Murray cracked a forehand pass winner and the Scot promptly served out for the set after just 36 minutes.

Three more breaks of serve followed in the second set, which Murray finished off by forcing Dodig into a backhand error with a splendid return of serve. At 2-1 up in the third set, Murray set up another break point with a stunning forehand cross-court pass, upon which Dodig double-faulted.

Dodig's last chance of making a match of it came in the seventh game, when he forced two break points, but Murray held on. The Croatian nevertheless kept the score respectable by forcing Murray to serve out for the set. The Scot secured victory after an hour and 51 minutes when Dodig hit a backhand long on the second match point.

The match was played at the end of the night session in Arthur Ashe Stadium and Murray enjoyed good support from the crowd. The American public have always responded well to him and are particularly appreciative of his efforts at the Olympics, where he won the gold medal in singles and silver in mixed doubles.

“I’ve always had very good support here since I was young,” Murray said. “I won the juniors here and I’ve always enjoyed coming back.”

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