August 30, 2018
Andy Murray fell in four sets to Fernando Verdasco; after more recriminations about the way players use the ten-minute break they are given to help cope with the extreme New York heat and humidity.
In truth the outspoken Brit, a former US Open winner, spent too much time on and off court complaining that Verdasco had broken the rules by speaking to his coach during these precious ten minutes at the end of the third set.
Verdasco denied that he had done this, although that stance only brought more accusations from the disgruntled Scot.
Andy’s unhappiness about the use and potential abuse of the new rules probably said more about his frustration with his own slow recovery from that lingering hip injury than anything else.
After all, Novak Djokovic had already openly admitted that he had received advice from his coach using sign language to get around the no-speaking rule during his own ten-minute heat-break the previous day.
Murray should have concentrated on his own performance and in particular his serve, which Verdasco seemed to break almost at will as the match progressed.
For a player who had enjoyed a 13-1 head-to-head going into this match against Verdasco, it was tough for Andy to accept that he was struggling to stay in the fight at two sets to one down.
And he was paying a massive compliment to the Verdasco camp if he thought a few quick words with their player would have made all the difference anyway.
But Murray complained to the supervisor about his opponent’s activities and explained later:
‘When I came out of the shower, his coach and one of the Spanish doubles players were in there chatting to him. You’re not allowed to speak to your coach.’
Verdasco countered: ‘I was in the ice bath with Marcos Baghdatis and his coach. I know exactly the rule and I don’t want to be the one breaking it.’
Murray later posted a response on instagram with the hashtag “#liarliarpantsonfire”, joking: ‘I’m off to get a health check as apparently I’ve started imagining things.’
With regard to the on-court action, Murray said: ‘It was nice to be competing in a Slam again – gave it my best effort but it wasn’t enough.’
Andy had a set point to win the opener but Verdasco saved it with an ace. Murray took control of the second and looked capable of victory at that stage.
But he let things slip in the third, with his service vulnerable in the final two sets. Even when he broke back, he was destined to be broken once more. And that proved to be the key as Verdasco won 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Murray could be seen limping as the clash wore on. He is still a long way from his very best; although he was pleased he was able to show the Grand Slam winner of old.
Realistically it may take until Wimbledon before the Brit is able to go into a Slam with any genuine confidence of holding his own into the second week.
All he can do is keep building and hope his body starts to hold up better with more tennis. Wimbledon 2019 must be the big target.
Meanwhile the bigger drama in New York, Serena Williams is set to face her sister Venus.
‘It is a little young in the tournament, but hey, cheer for me or cheer for Venus’. She told the vast crowd at Flushing Meadows after her 6-2, 6-2 victory over Carina Witthoeft.
She had fired 30 winners to her opponent’s ten. Witthoeft didn’t play badly at all; yet she was overpowered all the same.
Serena’s mobility was impressive, though she was still vulnerable to the odd clumsy moment.
How far she can go is anyone’s guess. Though we all know she is capable of winning this tournament if she can cope with the pressure.
The match against her sister will be one of the highlights of the tournament, which is already full of spice.