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Grand slam grit drags Murray from the depths

ESPN staff
August 25, 2014 « Di Maria joins United for British-record £59.7m | Day 6: Maria Ho eliminated, 68 left »
Andy Murray showed the grit of a grand slam champion © Getty Images
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Andy Murray survived a huge scare in his opening US Open match, overcoming a bizarre mid-match slump and thigh injury to eventually beat Robin Haase 6-3 7-6(8) 1-6 7-5.

Having started strongly, Murray looked down and out of it when icing his right thigh having lost the third set without a whimper. However, in true Murray fashion, he showed a champion's grit and determination to survive.

Murray: I didn't know what to do

  • Cramp proved to be a major problem for Andy Murray during his first round victory against Robin Haase - and the British No.1 admitted he had no idea where it came from.
  • "I don't know if it was the heat or not, I was cramping after about an hour and 40 minutes which isn't normal," Murray told Sky Sports. "I was getting it in my lats when I tried to serve, I didn't know whether to conserve energy or what to do.
  • "These slams are physically demanding. I need to work out what happened, I shouldn't be cramping after an hour and 45 minutes. It wasn't particularly humid, we weren't playing long rallies. Yeah, I don't know."

In the opening match on Louis Armstrong, women's fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska blitzed first round opponent Sharon Fichman in a mere 47 minutes. For Murray, it was a different test entirely.

Murray had work to do in the opening service game following two sweetly struck returns from Haase, but the British No.1 recovered well to take first blood in the New York heat.

That appeared to have an immediate effect on his opponent, who laboured to 0-40 in his opening service game and gave Murray three chances to establish control. The Scot only needed one, securing the early break with a beautifully placed lob.

Murray seized momentum with a routine service game, moving into a three-game lead with an ace. He soon ensured the double-break; after the pair traded deuces, Haase was caught out by the spin on Murray backhand slice and subsequently netted his return.

However, there were plenty of signs of rustiness from Murray and a loose forehand down the line gave his Dutch opponent a break and first game on the scoreboard. Haase survived another deuce to hold serve for the first time, but a dominating game-to-love from Murray restored a three-game lead before he closed out the set, albeit in scrappy fashion.

Murray's game was chalk and cheese at the start of the second; his deep play on the baseline was easily punished as Haase earned a break to put him 3-1 up. Murray, though, looked a different player at the net and quick footwork from the 2012 champion left Haase dumfounded.

The second set had to be settled by a tie-break, of which Haase had previously won just two in 14 attempts earlier this season. A flurry of erratic shots from both eventually saw Murray have the first sniff at 6-4, but a Haase's powerful return down the line levelled the scores.

Tsonga through as Williams feels the buzz

  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga suffered no troubles winning through to the second round of the US Open, while Nick Kyrgios became the first teenager since Novak Djokovic in 2006 to beat a seeded player in successive grand slams.
  • In the women's draw, Simona Halep had to dig deep to survive her opening round match while Agnieszka Radwanska and Jelena Jankovic both cruised - although Venus Williams had arguably the toughest fight of the day, against a honey bee during her opening match.
  • Read the men's wrap here
  • Read the women's wrap here

Murray was not impressed and displayed his frustration in contrasting ways; first came the customary angry racket-bash followed by a superb cross-court forehand on the line to bring up set point No.3. This time Haase went long and Murray held a comfortable two-set advantage.

It wasn't comfortable for long as the third set emphatically passed Murray by. Haase romped to a 5-1 lead and, having gained another break point to seal the set, converted easily to leave Murray's camp in a worried state.

It got worse when Murray, having already iced his right thigh, called for the trainer at the break. Haase, to his credit, exploited the weakness and began working Murray's body overtime. Time after time Haase sent his opponent running around the court and, with Murray unable to muster a response, moved into a 3-0 lead. The Scot ended a nine-game rot to reduce the gap, but hardly looked pleased in doing so.

Nevertheless, Murray adopted that same never-say-die attitude he does whenever he is under pressure and, despite suffering severe cramp in the process, put together a remarkable run of points to get back on serve. Haase, though, remained unforgiving and broke back immediately after a missed forehand from Murray, before conceding his advantage immediately with a bizarre double fault.

The 11th game finished exactly on the three-hour mark as Murray cracked a fiery return back across Haase to break and move ahead in the fourth for the first time.

In predictable fashion, serving for the match did not come easy; after surviving three break points, Murray found solace in deuce before completing the job. He apologised to Haase at the net, waved to the crowd, and walked off to standing ovation; one of a champion.

Robin Haase looked to have the momentum after blistering through the third set © Getty Images
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