Any minute during Saturday's U.S. Open men's semifinal between Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych, it appeared that little dog Toto would go flying across Arthur Ashe Stadium. Everything else not nailed down was airborne in the stiff, swirling winds that discombobulated the players throughout Murray's 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7) victory.
Both players -- mostly Berdych, who uses an especially high service toss -- spent a great deal of time catching those tosses that were pulled out of their intended arc by the persistent breezes. Murray lost a point on a perfect drop shot that would have saved an early break point because his cap blew off, triggering an automatic "let" call and a point replay.
One of Berdych's tosses ended up bouncing to midcourt. Murray, serving to close out the second set, stopped when a player's courtside chair and towels were hurled onto the field of play by a strong gust. Murray hit one 80 mile- per-hour serve with the wind at his back that sailed 3 feet too long. He scuttled another service attempt when a napkin flew into his line of vision.
Then, once Murray at last had survived, advancing to his first Open final since 2008, a proclamation was delivered during an interruption of his postmatch newss conference.
"Scotland invented the world," said Alex Ferguson, the famous Manchester United soccer manager who appeared with a fellow Scottish celebrity, actor Sean Connery, to back their countryman Murray in his quest to at last win a Grand Slam event after four previous runner-up finishes. "Today, we invented the wind."
Actually, Murray called the conditions "brutal." And, indeed, as more severe weather closed in, tournament officials stopped the second semifinal with defending champion Novak Djokovic trailing No. 4 seed David Ferrer, 5-2.
The Djokovic-Ferrer match will be resumed at 11 a.m. today -- pushing the men's final to Monday for the fifth consecutive year -- and the women's championship final between Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka that was postponed from Saturday night will be played Sunday at 4:30.
Remarkably, Murray (three) and Berdych (six) committed only nine double faults in the match and the quality of play remained surprisingly high. Berdych's ground strokes mostly were solid, and Murray -- over and over, with backhand lunges, defensive lobs and reflex volleys -- produced athletic gets to keep points alive.
"Probably the toughest I've played in," Murray said of the conditions. "I mean, there are certain rules in tennis that were broken many times today. It was sometimes two minutes between points because it was taking so long for us to throw the ball up.
"But I don't know if they stop other sports for a lot of wind. When there is a tornado around, that's the right time to stop. But there is a skill to playing in the wind. And people like to watch professionals struggle when they're in tough conditions. Ivan always says he likes watching the golfers when it's blowing really hard."
Both men grimaced and rolled their heads through the first set of struggle, and Murray once slapped his forehead repeatedly after he set up Berdych for an overhead that led to the Czech's service break to lock up the first set.
"You know," said h Berdych, "we are here in the States where they really love show. Actually, this is not about show. This is about somehow dealing with the conditions and trying to put the ball over the net. Sometimes was even impossible."
But, in the end, Murray was off scot-free.