August 29, 2013
Andy Murray’s late, late show sent out a warning to title rivals Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The Brit Boy loves New York – and his 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 victory over flamboyant Frenchman Michael Llodra was impressive. Incredibly, Murray only made five unforced errors in the entire match. Compare that to the 53 unforced errors Jerzy Janowicz made during his shock defeat to Maximo Gonzalez and you get the picture. This is one US Open champion who isn’t going to give up his title easily.
Yet it would be wrong to say that Murray was always in control. He trailed 0-3 and 15-30 on his own serve during the second set. He had no answers to Llodra’s brilliance during that amazing phase of the match. Then Michael’s magic suddenly evaporated. Andy’s razor-sharp mind went to work and exposed Llodra’s net-rushing for what it was – an outrageous gamble.
Did you see Llodra’s underarm serve just before Murray took the match? Janowicz had tried the same tactic against Gonzalez – but I don’t think it’s going to catch on, do you? Going underhand is pretty much the same as throwing in the towel – and the American crowds hate that.
So now Murray looks to have a fairly easy route through to the final stages of a tournament he loves. He is fresh, too, after hardcourt troubles at recent tournaments in North America reduced his workload.
Can Andy retain his title? I still expect Nadal or Djokovic to have too much for the Wimbledon champion. But Murray is ready for the fight, he is moving well and building nicely. That’s great for the tournament and great for everyone looking forward to some titanic clashes next week.
Venus Williams went down fighting didn’t she? After three-hours and two minutes of intense sporting combat, Jie Zheng emerged triumphant with a 6-3 2-6, 7-6 (7-5) win. Where does that leave Williams? She played a great match, worthy of a true legend at her home slam. We can’t really ask for more from Venus at this stage of her career.
Those who stayed long enough to enjoy the tennis of Sloane Stephens after the Murray match were treated to something special. She began her match against Urszula Radwanska just before midnight. And Stephens must have had doubts after losing to Radwanska as recently as Cincinatti. But this turned out to be an awesome demolition job – 6-1, 6-1. Sloane’s flowing shots were a true delight, especially that booming forehand.
The longer the American stays in the tournament the better. The home crowd loves her and it’s great for them to have another favourite to cheer, in addition to the great Serena Williams.
Who doesn’t love the US Open? The chaos of the schedules and the animated crowds just add to the fun somehow. Can’t wait for more!