Murray's clever play beats frustrated Gulbis

When Andy Murray looked ahead to his first-round match against Ernests Gulbis here at the US Open he said it was important “to make him play a lot of balls because he gets impatient”. The 22-year-old Scot stressed that it was “not about smashing winners all over the court”.

Murray was as good as his word. The world No 2 played a typically clever match here this morning, keeping the ball in play and tempting the big-hitting Gulbis into a succession of mistakes. By the end of Murray’s 7-5, 6-3, 7-5 victory, Gulbis had made 51 unforced errors to his opponent’s 21. The Latvian also hit more winners – 46 to 33 – but it was Murray who dictated the pattern of a match in which he always seemed in command. He now plays Chile’s Paul Capdeville, who beat the Romanian Victor Crivoi 6-3, 6-0, 7-6.

Having beaten Gulbis three times before, most recently at Wimbledon earlier this summer, Murray knew exactly what to expect. Gulbis loves to go for his shots and on occasions delighted the evening crowd with some huge strokes from both flanks. The 21-year-old Latvian lacks patience, however, and Murray’s consistent ball-striking brought a regular reward. The Scot also attacked when the opportunity arose and Gulbis had trouble coping with his clever variations of pace.

Gulbis’ other major failing was his judgement on Hawk-Eye challenges. Two were hopelessly wrong and one – a Murray serve which landed nearly a foot inside the service line – left the spectators and both players laughing.

The 23,000-capacity Arthur Ashe Stadium was less than half full by the end of the night and the crowd were generally subdued, coming to life only when Gulbis threatened to make a match of it. The biggest cheers were reserved for a ballboy who fell spectacularly into a photographers’ pit by the side of the court.

Most parts of Murray’s game looked in good order. He hit 11 aces and found a good rhythm on serve when it mattered. From 0-40 down in one game in the second set Murray hit five unreturned first serves in succession. He struck his ground strokes with assurance, rationed his drop shots and volleyed smartly on the limited occasions when he approached the net.

Murray thought Gulbis played much better than he had at Wimbledon and was pleased with his own performance. “I thought it was good,” he said. “It was a high standard of match.”

The Scot drew first blood, breaking to lead 4-2 in the first set as Gulbis made four forehand errors in a row. The Latvian broke back immediately courtesy of two thumping winners down the line, but at 5-6 Murray took the set by chasing down a drop shot to hit a big forehand cross-court winner.

Having gone into a 3-0 lead at the start of the second set, Murray himself was broken to love when leading 4-2. Gulbis, however, dropped serve in the following game and Murray served out for the set.

The only time when Murray looked in any sort of trouble came with a heavy fall as he chased down a drop shot at 4-4 in the third set. The Scot crashed to the ground but was quickly on his feet and did not appear to suffer any ill-effects. “It was just a few bruises,” he said. “Maybe it will hurt in the morning for a little bit, but I don’t think I did any damage.”

Murray did not lose another game after his tumble. At 5-5 he broke serve with a lovely backhand cross-court winner and leapt into the air in celebration. The match finished in the next game in appropriate fashion, with Gulbis making two backhand errors.

Capdeville, Murray’s next opponent, is the world No 87. The 26-year-old Chilean has reached the second round here on two previous occasions, losing to Fernando Verdasco in 2005 and to Roger Federer in 2007. He won a Challenger tournament at Binghamton, New York last month and reached the second round in New Haven last week, but before that had lost nine first-round matches in succession.

To add to Murray’s satisfaction, two players who might have caused him trouble in future rounds went out. Ivo Karlovic, the No 27 seed and his potential third-round opponent, lost to Spain’s Ivan Navarro, while

Stanislas Wawrinka, whom Murray could have met in the fourth round, lost to Nicolas Lapentti.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried