NEW YORK (AFP) - World number two Andy Murray made himself heard at the US Open on Thursday (Sept 1), downing tenacious Spaniard Marcel Granollers in straight sets to reach the third round.
With pounding rain creating a din under the new US$150 million (S$200 million) roof of the Arthur Ashe stadium, Murray battled through a tense first set to triumph 6-4, 6-1, 6-4.
“We’re lucky that we get to play under the roof because otherwise there’d be no tennis,” said Murray, whose match went on as all action stopped on the outside courts. “It’s good for everyone.”
But in the 22,000-seat stadium, the acoustics of the roof are proving problematic, and Murray admitted the echoing noise made things difficult.
“It was tough, you couldn’t really hear the ball at all,” said Murray, who is trying to become just the fourth man to reach all four Grand Slam finals in the same year.
His consistency in the majors paid off with a second Wimbledon title in July, a victory followed by a second straight Olympic gold in Rio.
He looked on his way to a routine victory over 45th-ranked Granollers with a 4-1 lead in the opening set, but wasted two set points in dropping his serve in the ninth game before finally breaking Granollers in the next on his seventh set point.
“Thankfully I got through that 5-4 game and then the momentum was back with me,” said Murray, who broke Granollers twice in the second set and once in a tightly contested third to seal the win.
As the showers lingered, 11 doubles matches scheduled for outside courts were cancelled.
Both Serena and Venus Williams looked set to sample play under the roof for the first time.
Serena, who matched the Open Era record for Grand Slam singles titles with her 22nd at Wimbledon, said she’d be aiming to step it up a notch against Vania King in the second round on Thursday night.
“I think I can get a lot better,” the US superstar said after a straight-sets win over Ekaterina Makarova, although she acknowledged that she didn’t know how the troublesome right shoulder that has hindered her since Wimbledon would react to her workout against the Russian lefty.
Even if it does flare up, Williams has to be considered a strong favorite against her 87th-ranked compatriot King, a wild card she trounced 6-1, 6-0 in their only prior meeting, in the second round of the 2014 US Open.
Sixth-seeded Venus Williams, whose seven Grand Slam titles include two US Opens, was eyeing a place in the last 32 against German Julia Goerges.
Fired-up fifth seed Simona Halep reached the third round with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Lucie Safarova in a battle of former French Open finalists.
Halep showed a flash of frustration after letting an early break get away in the opening frame, but she won the last three games to pocket the set and sealed the win when Safarova double-faulted on match point – one of 11 breaks of serve in the contest.
Halep apologized for her racquet-swiping fit of pique.
“I know it’s not nice,” she said. “But I can’t control my emotions. I’m trying, but I can’t do it.” Halep called playing under the roof “amazing,” although it didn’t relieve all climate problems.
“I was a little cold,” she said. “I felt the air conditioning.”
Among those waiting out the rain, sixth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan had split two sets and was at 4-4 in the third against Russian qualifier Karen Khachanov, while eighth-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria was level at 4-4 against Lithuanian Ricardas Barankais.
Women’s fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and men’s third seed Stan Wawrinka were in limbo with second-round matches scheduled on the Louis Armstrong stadium.