Andy Murray, fresh off Olympic gold, breezes in first round at U.S. Open
The tennis continuum is such that recent happenings can help a player or they can hurt, and everyone is just going to have to wait and see how the long slog to the U.S. Open championship plays out.
"Mentally, I feel I'm in a good place," said No. 3 men's seed Andy Murray, still riding the emotional euphoria of having won the Olympic gold medal in his home country. "Physically, I think all the players are going to be a little tired after this long season."
Murray, the 25-year-old Scot who four times has been a Grand Slam tournament runner-up but arrived in Flushing Meadows with new expectations -- both from himself and his peers -- began his Open quest with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 victory over Alex Bogomolov Jr. on Monday.
Bogomolov, a dual U.S.-Russian citizen who has chosen to represent Russia, got two immediate service breaks but just as quickly gave them back. And Murray, despite some dreadful percentages on his first serve early (a mere 28 percent midway through the first set), steadily built momentum.
What that means for the rest of the tournament, no one can say. "I mean, in Australia this year, I struggled in my first-round match, physically didn't feel great, then went on to have a good tournament," said Murray, who lost a tough five-set semifinal to eventual champ Novak Djokovic in Melbourne.
Murray's next opponent here will be 27-year-old Croatian Ivan Dodig, the world's 118th- ranked player who Monday won in straight sets over Japan's Hiroki Moriya, a 21-year-old qualifier ranked 229th.
"Of course, with the Olympics," Dodig said, Murray "showed that he's ready for big things. So we will see. But we are all human beings. If you go with this concentration on the court, that you can beat everyone, you have the chance."
Among the others who still have a chance -- having won the first of a necessary seven matches over two weeks to be Open champion -- is Mardy Fish, the highest-ranked American (No. 23) in action Monday. A 7-6 (3), 7-6 (2), 6-3 winner over Go Soeda, a 27-year-old Japanese ranked 55th, Fish is hoping his decision to skip the Olympics has left him fresher than most of his ranked peers.
Also, James Blake, the self-described "elder statesman" back from knee surgery at 32, eliminated No. 54 Lukas Lacko of Slovakia in four sets. Once as high as No. 4, now ranked 115th and in the tournament via a wild card, Blake pronounced himself "feeling great, when I actually feel I can move the way I used to, or the way I need to to compete here."
Jack Sock, a Nebraska teenager (now 19) who advanced to the Open's second round last year, prevailed when No. 22 seed Florian Mayer of Germany retired, with Sock leading, 6-3, 6-2, 3-2. "I'm playing the tournament to compete," Sock said, "and try to win matches and play as far as I can in the draw.''
The idea is to keep on keeping on.