52° Good Afternoon
52° Good Afternoon
SportsTennisUS Open

U.S. Open: Andy Murray continues great year with easy win

Andy Murray reaches for the backhand return against

Andy Murray reaches for the backhand return against Marcel Granollers during their second round mens singles match on Day 4 of The US Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

It’s been all rainbows for Andy Murray lately.

A third major tournament title at Wimbledon in July.

The first British finalist at June’s French Open.

The first pair of siblings, with his brother Jamie, in the Open era (since 1968) to reach singles and doubles finals in the same major (at the Australian Open).

The first player, at the Rio Games last month, to win a second Olympic singles gold medal.

In February, Murray became a father. On his 29th birthday — May 15 — he defeated top-ranked Novak Djokovic at the Rome tournament. Abundant good news.

He arrived at this year’s U.S. Open as the No. 2 seed and with a significantly less troublesome half of the draw than No. 1 Djokovic. And on Thursday, Murray had his second Open straight-sets victory, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4, over Spain’s Marcel Granollers, 30, who is ranked 45th.

So 2016 has been good so far. Murray said it is “difficult to know what to put that down to. There are many things that have gone into becoming a parent and for me, anyway, it’s changed my perspective a bit on things. I feel a little bit calmer than maybe I did in the past about my tennis and how important tennis is in my life.

“It’s still extremely important, but it’s not the most important thing,” he said. “And I think having Ivan [Lendl, a former eight-time major-tournament champion] back on my team has been great and has helped me a lot.”

Murray, like Lendl, lost his first four Grand Slam finals before winning his first — the 2012 Open — after he contracted Lendl’s guidance. The two split shortly after Murray won his first Wimbledon title in 2013, then reunited weeks before this year’s Wimbledon for Murray’s second title there.

“I think he’s very professional, very disciplined,” Murray said of Lendl. “Probably things that made him very successful as a player, so those are a few of the reasons, but many things go into making a good coach.

“Obviously, tactics are something that’s important, the way you set up the practices and the training, the level that you expect, and effort in training sessions.”

Murray routinely deflects questions about how different his personality is from Lendl’s. Murray is an outwardly emotional player of occasionally poor body language; Lendl was a stoic, remaining expressionless to the point of appearing robotic.

But the two clearly have worked well together, and on Thursday, Murray was happy with his ongoing progress. “I served at 40, 42 percent first serves or something,” he said, “and still won in straight sets. I must have been doing other things well, hitting the ball pretty well and returning pretty good. It was all right.”

Another pleasant development for Murray was being able to continue play under the new Arthur Ashe Stadium roof in the midst of a downpour. Not so lucky was Japan’s Kei Nishikori, the 2014 Open runner-up and No. 6 seed, whose 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Karen Khachanov of Russia in Louis Armstrong Stadium was interrupted in the third set’s ninth game for two hours.

New York Sports