Ivan Dodig relishing chance to take on Andy Murray at US Open


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The Independent Online

However Ivan Dodig fares against Andy Murray in their second round match at the US Open tonight, one thing the Croatian will not lack is desire.

Climbing up the ladder in tennis is almost never a straightforward process, but some players have it easier than others and Dodig was definitely one of the others.

When the 27-year-old was playing in Futures and Challengers tournaments, he was living from hand to mouth to such an extent that he sometimes slept in bus stations or airports and even once, reportedly, under a bridge.

Dodig said in an interview earlier this year: "I had some financial situations after the war (in the former Yugoslavia) but unfortunately I did not get any support. I was fighting in some Futures to earn some money.

"It was very hard for me because I knew that if I lost there was a small chance that I could go to the next tournament. If I won some matches, I would have a chance to play more tournaments.

"Sometimes it was good, sometimes not so good. I was taking care of every euro. I had many tough situations in tournaments having to play without money and many times without anywhere to sleep."

But he persevered and things are different for Dodig now, although he is far from one of the sport's big earners. Last year he won his first ATP Tour event in Zagreb and his current ranking of 118 is largely down to struggles with a back problem.

Indeed, Dodig is no stranger to big upsets having beaten Rafael Nadal last year, while he also has wins over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Robin Soderling to his name.

The match will be played under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium and Dodig will certainly not be fazed.

He said: "For me it's great. I will be really, really happy to play on a big court. I have some experience with some other guys, but with him it's the first time for me.

"He is a top player. With these guys it's very tough. You have to play over your limit. We are all human beings, but he has the chance on the court."

In the final match of the day session, Laura Robson will play her first match on Arthur Ashe against three-time champion Kim Clijsters.

If the British teenager wins, it will be Clijsters' final singles match in professional tennis, with the Belgian due to retire after this tournament.

British number five Johanna Konta joined Murray and Robson in the second round yesterday after posting her first victory in the main draw of a grand slam against Timea Babos.

The 21-year-old, who came through qualifying, will meet Belarus' Olga Govortsova in the second round tomorrow.

Caroline Wozniacki was the big casualty yesterday, the eighth seed hampered by a knee injury in losing 6-2 6-2 to Romania's Irina Camelia Begu, while world number one Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova are in second-round action today.