Andy Murray kept his US Open campaign alive but only after producing one of the remarkable comebacks that have become one of his trademarks. For the eighth time in his career the 28-year-old Scot won from two sets down, beating France’s Adrian Mannarino 5-7, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 to earn a third-round meeting with Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci.
The victory extended Murray’s remarkable level of consistency. The world No 3 has reached the last 32 of every Grand Slam tournament he has played since he lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the first round of the Australian Open seven years ago.
Nevertheless, Murray might be concerned about his slow start, which could have been punished by a better player than Mannarino, who has never gone beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament. Although Murray won the last three sets in convincing fashion as the 27-year-old Frenchman faded quickly in the challenging conditions, he would surely have preferred to have saved his energy for the greater challenges that lie ahead.
“It was extremely tough,” Murray said afterwards. “He hits the ball very, very flat. He has fantastic timing off both sides and very short backswings. It’s very difficult to read where he’s going to hit the ball and I was leaving the ball a little bit short at the beginning. He was making me do all the running.
“Thankfully in the third set I managed to grab a break point. I had a number in the second set and the first set but he was serving really well on some of the break points and I was missing a few returns. It was an extremely tough match.”
The match began just after 3pm on another day of draining heat and humidity. For the second round in a row Murray was playing in Arthur Ashe Stadium, though his opening victory over Nick Kyrgios had been a night match.
Murray, who often trains in Florida, is used to such conditions, but for two sets he appeared out of sorts, while Mannarino found his form immediately. The world No 35 hit his ground strokes with consistent power, served well and showed some lovely touches with his drop shots.
Mannarino broke in the very first game and although Murray quickly levelled to 2-2 the Frenchman finished the opening set strongly. At 5-5 Mannarino broke serve again with a backhand winner and he served out for the set, though he had to save four break points in the final game.
At 4-4 in the second set Murray went 0-40 down as Mannarino cracked a winning backhand pass down the line before a netted backhand gave the Frenchman his break of serve. Mannarino took the set by holding to love, putting away his first set point with a neat serve-and-volley combination.
At two sets down Murray appeared to be in crisis. However, the Scot has dug himself out of similar situations in the past and from the start of the third set he immediately seemed more energised.
Bouncing up and down between points and striding purposefully back to his mark after changeovers, it was as if he had decided that now was the time to get down to work. The transformation in his game was remarkable as he upped the ante on his ground strokes and started to dictate the pace of many of the rallies.
Murray won the first three games of the third set, which he took in just 31 minutes. Mannarino hung on grimly at the start of the fourth set, saving five break points in the opening game, but the Frenchman double-faulted at 1-1 to give Murray another break. At set point six games later he double-faulted again.
Murray was now in full flight. The Scot went 3-0 up at the start of the final set, broke again and then served out for victory with an ace after three hours and 17 minutes.
Britain’s Aljaz Bedene was unable to build on a promising start and was beaten 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 by Donald Young, of the United States.Reuse content