Monday, August 27, 2012
Andy Murray advances at Open
ESPN.com news services
NEW YORK -- Andy Murray weathered a slow start in the latest stop of this long, successful summer.
Seeking that elusive first Grand Slam title, Murray began his U.S. Open campaign Monday with a straight-set victory over Alex Bogomolov Jr. that included some hairy moments. The Olympic gold medalist overcame early breaks in the first two sets of a 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 win.
The third-seeded Murray won the final five games of the first set and the last four games of the second after falling behind early against the 73rd-ranked Bogomolov.
Murray, who won the gold medal in his home country at the London Games, also reached the final at Wimbledon.
Murray is trying to become the first man to win the Olympics and the U.S. Open in the same year. His first match of 2012 at Flushing Meadows gave him a decent test -- with just a little something to worry about.
He fell down a break to open the first two sets but won the last five games of the first and last four games of the second, then cruised in the third, which he began by shouting "focus."
"It's an important stage of the match, when he was up 4-3 in the second with a break, then I won three games in a row and momentum was with me," Murray said. "You want to win the matches as quickly as possible."
He finished with 46 winners to 24 for Bogomolov, and handled the array of drop shots Bogomolov tried on him. Leading 4-1 in the third set, Murray grabbed his left hamstring while lunging for a ball near the net. But he closed out the match with no problem.
"Maybe I didn't take enough fluid," Murray said.
The American men got off to a good start with wins by two wild cards, 32-year-old James Blake and 19-year-old Jack Sock.
One American, however, fell, as top-seeded Roger Federer beat Donald Young in the night session.
Federer ousted Young 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to improve his career record to 62-7 at Flushing Meadows.
Looking to extend his record with an 18th Grand Slam title, Federer finished with seven aces and needed only 1 hour, 34 minutes to dispatch Young, an American who endured a 17-match losing streak earlier in the year.
Federer, a winner earlier this year at Wimbledon and the Olympic silver medalist, came into the U.S. Open seeded first for the 23rd time at a Grand Slam, breaking the record he shared with Pete Sampras.
Federer had left the U.S. Open the last two years after semifinal losses to Novak Djokovic.
Sock can only hope to reach the semifinal, but took a two-set lead over Florian Mayer before the No. 22 seed quit after feeling faint and dizzy. Sock won the U.S. Open boys championship in 2010, becoming the first American to take that title since Andy Roddick, 10 years earlier. He came into this year's tournament ranked 248th and without a win over a top-50 player.
"I think for some reason here in New York at the Open, the last couple years I played here, I played well here overall, pretty consistently," he said. "I always served pretty well."
Sock was ahead 6-3, 6-2, 3-2 when Mayer retired.
"He played the perfect match," Mayer said. "He hit the forehand fast, didn't really make any mistakes, just played really good."
Blake reached the second round of a Grand Slam event for the first time this year, beating Lukas Lacko 7-5, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. He had needed a wild card to make his 12th appearance at the Open after his ranking fell out of the top 100. He hadn't lost in the first round at Flushing Meadows since his debut in 1999.
Blake, who has twice made the quarterfinals at the Open, won the first two sets against the 54th-ranked Lacko before the rain delay.
Blake used to mock Todd Martin for his gray hair, "for just in general being old."
Martin, a decade his senior, would warn his fellow American: "Just wait. You will be, too."
"Now I'm getting it from everyone," Blake said. "I deserve it, because if I dish it out, I've got to be able to take it. I'm getting the old jokes, the grandpa jokes, and I'm OK with that."
Blake struggled early in 2012 after right knee surgery but had started to play better in the American hard-court tournaments leading into the Open.
"I think I was kidding myself earlier in the year thinking I was able to move at this level, and I really wasn't after the knee surgery," he said. "I think I more wanted it to be OK than it really was OK."
Now, his knee hasn't felt this good since 2008 or '09. Blake, who became a father in June, is talking about playing through at least next year.
"That's been exciting for me, the last, I'd say, three or four weeks during the summer where I actually feel like I can move the way I used to or the way I need to to compete here," he said.
Also advancing is 23rd-seeded Mardy Fish, who beat Go Soeda of Japan in three sets, and Tim Smyczek, who won 1-6, 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 over Bobby Reynolds in a 3-hour, 33-minute, all-American matchup between qualifiers.
"It's obviously the biggest tournament for us Americans but I'm just trying to go about my business and treat it like any other week," said Smyczek, ranked 179th, after recording his first victory in a Grand Slam tournament.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.