Cincinnati Masters: Andy Murray back in the groove for US Open with Mikhail Youzhny win

British number one is warming up for US Open

Andy Murray got off to the perfect start in his last tournament before beginning the defence of his US Open title when he brushed aside Mikhail Youzhny in the second round of the Cincinnati Masters yesterday. Murray, putting behind him the disappointment of his early exit in Montreal last week, beat the 31-year-old Russian 6-2, 6-3 in just an hour and 10 minutes to earn a meeting with France’s Julien Benneteau.

Murray, who has won the title twice in Cincinnati, is keen to get matches under his belt as he prepares for the year’s final Grand Slam event and appeared much more at ease with his game than he had in losing to Ernests Gulbis last week in his first tournament since winning Wimbledon.

Hitting the ball cleanly and moving easily around the court, Murray rarely looked in trouble against an opponent he had beaten in all three of their previous meetings.

The world No 2 played conservatively for the most part, cutting out his mistakes and using plenty of slice.

Youzhny, who had beaten Gulbis 24 hours earlier, was on the back foot from the start, winning only three points in the first three games as Murray began by making two successive breaks of serve. Murray made two more early breaks at the start of the second set and, although Youzhny retrieved one of them, the world No 25 was broken again as Murray secured a comfortable victory.

“It was an important match for me to get through because I obviously want to try and get as many matches as possible this week before the US Open,” Murray said afterwards. “I only got a couple last week, so I was pretty nervous before the match.”

Roger Federer, returning after missing the Montreal Masters with a back problem, beat Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-6 and revealed afterwards that he would be reverting to his old racket until after the US Open, which starts on Monday week. The Swiss had experimented with a racket with a bigger frame in two clay-court tournaments last month.

Maria Sharapova’s first match since appointing Jimmy Connors as her coach ended in a 2-6, 7-6, 6-3 defeat to Sloane Stephens. Sharapova, who has not played for seven weeks because of a hip injury, made more than 60 unforced errors. The Russian said afterwards that she would “keep working hard and keep moving forward” despite the setback.

The United States Tennis Association is to build a retractable roof over the 22,500-capacity Arthur Ashe Stadium, the largest tennis arena in the world, in a major revamp of facilities at the US Open.

The last five US Opens have gone into a third week because of bad weather. Two new stadiums will also be built at the venue.

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