US Open: Racket makes Andy Murray a good shout for success


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The Independent Online

The hubbub of Flushing Meadows is not to everyone's taste. There is a constant background noise at the US Open, whether it is planes flying into La Guardia airport, music at the changeovers or just the sound of people talking, shouting and moving around. In the city that never sleeps, it is no surprise that there is never true peace and quiet.

For some players the constant commotion can be distracting – understandable, perhaps, when front-row spectators get up and leave in the middle of a point, let alone a game – but Andy Murray has grown to love this place.

On Friday night the defending champion reached the third round with a 7-5 6-1 3-6 6-1 victory over Argentina's Leonardo Mayer in Louis Armstrong Stadium, which is perhaps the noisiest of all the courts here. The second show-court has a more intimate feel than the cavernous Arthur Ashe Stadium, where the sounds of even a 23,000 crowd can evaporate into the sky.

"At this tournament, on all of the big courts it's very different to Wimbledon," Murray said. "It's something that you need to enjoy about the tournament. It's quite loud. There's always noise during the points. You hear a constant kind of murmur, whereas at Wimbledon it's pretty much silence.

"It's a different atmosphere, and one that I enjoyed when I came here the first time, as a kid playing the juniors. You just have to get used to it each time you come back."

Friday night's crowd were particularly noisy as they enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining match. While Murray never looked in any danger of losing, Mayer was a powerful opponent who took advantage of some erratic serving and returning by his opponent. The 26-year-old Argentinian has a big serve and bold, looping groundstrokes. It was a good job that Murray is so quick around the court because he was constantly on the run, chasing down the world No 81's shots into all corners.

"We got a great crowd out there," Murray said. It was a really good atmosphere from pretty much the first point through to the last.

"It's a court I haven't played my best tennis on, that's for sure. Playing during the day instead of at night also makes it completely different. The ball is bouncing extremely high out there at the beginning and he's a big hitter of the ball. He served big, bigger than I thought, and with a big second serve, too. It took me some time to get used to his game."

Today Murray will face another Mayer – Florian Mayer, a 29-year-old German ranked No 47 in the world who has lost both his previous meetings with the Scot.

"He's very tough," Murray said. "He comes to the net a bit. He has a good sliced backhand, but he hits it with two hands, which isn't how you're normally taught to play that shot.

"He has very good feel up at the net. He hits a lot of drop shots. He's a pretty flat ball-striker. He has huge, looping strokes. It can be tough to time your split step and know when he's going to make contact with the ball. He's caused a lot of guys problems over his career. I'll need to play well to beat him."

Murray said he was happy with his tournament so far. "I thought the first match was very good. I didn't feel like I served as well today as I did in the first match. It was a different court, different conditions during the day.

"But I finished the match well. I played well when I needed to. That's a good sign. Obviously I want to keep improving as the tournament goes on. You don't want to play your best right at the beginning."