September 2, 2015
Andy Murray emerged triumphant from a scintillating clash with Aussie rebel Nick Kyrgios, using all his experience to prevail under pressure 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1.
But the shot of the match came from the 20-year-old, whose delayed, sizzling hot-dog split the New York night air with such searing speed that Murray did well to get over the surprise and return it at all.
Fittingly, Kyrgios followed up with a bullet of a forehand winner to leave Flushing Meadows gasping and roaring in admiration. The trouble was, the Canberra Cannon tried too many trick shots for his own good during a match that saw his talent shine again.
Murray, however, kept a cool head and converted seven out of fifteen break points, in contrast to a shaky three out of fourteen from Kygrios.
And tellingly, Murray’s serve was also more solid and he won 71% of his first-serve points, ahead of the younger man’s 64%. That was the cornerstone of an impressive victory.
But the key moment came at the start of the fourth set, after Kyrgios had hit back and was bubbling ominously. Murray chose that moment to produce his most ruthless tennis and never looked back, avoiding the potentially damaging effects of a draining fifth set.
Two hours and forty-three minutes already represented more of a work-out than he would have liked and Murray reflected: ‘The beginning of the fourth set was important because I finished it extremely well and managed to get the momentum back. I’m 28, I’m getting old and it’s time for an ice-bath.’
Kyrgios maintained his bad-boy image by picking up a code violation for venting his frustration as Murray took control of that crucial fourth. Yet his spectacular brand of tennis had won him plenty of friends in New York by the end of this hugely enjoyable contest.
And Murray knew his tactical acumen had been severely tested when all was said and done. ‘The way he plays, you feel like you’re on the back foot all the time. I tried to stay solid and mix it up.’
Next Murray faces “flashy” Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. The Scot claimed: ‘He’s tricky, he’s flashy and like Nick he’s unpredictable. He serves well, he stands a long way in the corner for his lefty serve and hits it flat, it’s not going to easy.’
But if Murray can draw upon his improving psychological strength and match his extraordinary talent and fitness, he should negotiate that one more comfortably and continue his charge towards the last four.