- Murray beats Rosol 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to move into second round
- Scottish second seed will next play Spain’s Marcel Granollers
Andy Murray could hardly have made a more satisfying start to the 2016 US Open than he did here on the revamped Arthur Ashe Court in the last night match on Tuesday, demolishing the stubborn Czech, Lukáš Rosol, in under two hours.
The controlled venom of his tennis was markedly at odds with the rash power of his opponent, with whom he shares a bit of history. The Scot did not concede a single break point, converted five of his own and put 11 aces past Rosol to win 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 going away. His serve hummed like a bird on a wire and his technical acumen dazzled a rival who ran out of answers almost within the first quarter of an hour.
Murray will have witnessed the four-set struggle of the world No1 Novak Djokovicagainst Jerzy Janowicz the night before, and will know, but not acknowledge, that the educated money will be shifting sharply his way. In the third round on Thursday, he plays the artful Spaniard, Marcel Granollers, who earlier battled to beat Juan Monaco 7-6 (5), 7-6 (2), 6-4 in four hours and seven minutes.
Murray’s passage to the second round was a stroll by comparison. Even with the roof back, the acoustics on reconstituted Ashe have an echo to them, the crowd’s chatter taking on the hubbub of a crowded bar. We were sat no more than 15 feet behind the umpire’s chair and the “thwack” of the ball sounded less sharp. So at least the players could have sworn at each other with impunity – if there were of a mind.
Both tried their best this week to play down the spat they had in Munich last year – when Rosol shoulder-bumped Murray on a changeover and Murray responded with a rebuke so mild it would have had him laughed out of any pub in Glasgow.
Nevertheless, there was an edge. Rosol’s eyes blazed and in a fast opening he hit every shot with mean intent. Murray stayed cool, inflicting his own brand of retribution, with patient backhand slices, teasing the Czech into over-eager ground strokes.
Rosol was reckless and dangerous, a not uncommon mix, but there was little in it until Murray dragged his opponent into a deuce wore on the half hour that tested his composure, and he cracked, paying for one rash forehand too many.
When Murray held to love with an ace, the tone of the match changed. Although Rosol fought tenaciously to save three set points and hold for 3-5, Murray closed it out after 43 minutes.
Now began the process of grinding that would dismantle Rosol’s tennis. Murray broke to 15, held easily and the Czech, growing desperate, double-faulted three times to pretty much hand the set to him after three games.
Murray produced some breathtaking skills to stretch his lead and, although there was a bit of fight left in Rosol, he increasingly looked like the world No81 of his ranking as Murray dissected his game bit by bit.
An ace kept him in the set before Murray produced threee of his own – one on second serve – to settle the argument. After a mere hour and 20 minutes, all that remained for Murray to do was a bit of tidying up in the third set – but not before an hilarious toilet break in which he was first turned away by a security guard, and then left bamboozled when a woman walked past him out of the door. It was the most grief he’d had all night.
Murray’s serve, vicious and accurate most of the evening, was now sharpened for the kill. The uneven nature of the contest rather than the quality of the tennis had thinned the crowd, and the bulk of the noise now leaked from the bars around the concourse.
When Rosol hit a serve that cleared the baseline and followed it with a couple of howitzers off the ground that went nowhere, it was plain this contest was done. He wanted to go home, and hitting his way into rather than out of trouble looked to be his preferred route.
He hit hard, long and wide – and Murray had the break he needed in the fifth game. He broke again in the seventh as Rosol’s discipline collapsed completely, then brought a one-sided fight to a merciful conclusion after an hour and 51 minutes with one last thundering serve.
Murray is third on the admittedly early table of points won on second serve, once the bugbear of his game.
“My first and second serve were very good tonight,” he said. “That’s something that I worked on a lot. It was good through the grass at Wimbledon. It was important for me. Especially in the final there and the semis, I was really not giving up too many chances. Last week, as well, was the same thing. And in Cincinnati, too. When I serve well, the rest of my game tends to follow.”
He has always enjoyed the noise and excitement of New York – and even the occasionally over-the-top crowd at Flushing. Under the roof, it was amplified, which did not bother him.
“There’s always been noise out there. I think the roof has changed that a little bit. You get used to it as the match goes on. But it is very different. You know, imagine when you go to play on one of the outside courts, it will be quite a significant change.”
As for his opponent, Murray said, “He came out going for his shots. Once I got through that tricky period right at the start, where he’s hitting the ball really well, I adjusted to the conditions. I settled down and played, I think, a really good match.”
All in all, a satisfactory night’s work under what remains of the skies you can see from this raucous bowl.