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Murray starts with convincing win

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Andy Murray began his US Open campaign with a solid win over Ernests Gulbis in Tuesday's showpiece night match.

The world number two took the first-round encounter 7-5 6-3 7-5 in two hours 16 minutes at Flushing Meadows.

Murray went into the match with a 3-0 record against Gulbis and, having beaten him at Wimbledon, was rarely troubled this time around.

The 22-year-old Scot now faces Chile's Paul Capdeville, who beat Romania's Victor Crivoi 6-3 6-0 7-6 (7-2).

Capdeville, ranked 87 in the world, is a player Murray knows well. The duo trained together in Barcelona when they were juniors.

"We had the same coach, trained at the same academy and we did one or two trips together," Murray told BBC Radio 5 live.

"I went to South America with him and we played a bit of doubles. I'm sure a lot of people won't know him that well, but I know him relatively well and there won't be any surprises."

There were other positive developments for Murray in New York.

Potential third- and fourth-round opponents Ivo Karlovic and Stanislas Wawrinka suffered surprise defeats.

But Murray said: "If I lose the next round its irrelevant what those two have done, so I'll try and focus on the next match."

Murray never looked like following Karlovic and Wawrinka out of the tournament at the first hurdle, despite occasional moments of brilliance from the talented Gulbis.

The Latvian, a year younger than Murray at 21, has considerable power and promise but has slipped down the rankings this year and currently stands at 95 in the world.

He showed why as early as the sixth game, when four successive errors handed Murray the easiest of breaks, before stringing together some equally brilliant winners in the next game to break straight back.

For a first match I thought it was very good because he played very well, a lot better than at Wimbledon

Andy Murray

Murray, the runner-up in New York last year, was much the steadier player.

Hs patient baseline game helped earn him the first set point at 5-4, only for Gulbis to fire a huge ace out wide.

Gulbis then fashioned a break-point chance in game 10, only for Murray to respond with a service winner of his own.

A tight set appeared destined for a tie-break until Gulbis played a desperately erratic game, slipping 0-40 down with three errors, battling back with some aggressive play, and then giving Murray a fifth set point with a woeful volley.

This time, Murray took his chance, chasing down a drop shot and steering a winner to seal the opening set.

The Scot raced into a 3-0 lead in the second as he stepped up the pace, but he then threw in a poor service game and was broken to love as Gulbis cut the deficit to 4-3.

It did not signal a comeback, however, and Murray played a tremendous eighth game to restore his advantage, taking it with a crunching forehand winner and capturing the set soon after.

Gulbis did well to hang in for most of the third set as the boisterous New York crowd willed him to make a fight of it, but Murray finally made the breakthrough in game 11 with a fantastic cross-court backhand winner and he served out for a comfortable victory.

Andy Murray grimaces

Murray's fall in the third set was broken by his opponent's kitbag

"I thought it was a high standard of match," said Murray.

"I had a few chances in the third set to go up breaks. I had 0-30 in the first game, maybe 0-40 in the second service game then a couple of times in the first two sets where I was up a break and got broken straight back pretty much.

"I was giving him chances to break me, but when I needed to I upped my game.

"My concentration could have been a bit better, but for a first match I thought it was very good because he played very well, a lot better than at Wimbledon."

It was not all plain sailing for Murray.

His relatively smooth progress was jolted in the final set when he made a mad dash to retrieve a half-volley and hit the deck just after reaching the ball with a backhand, ending up sprawled on the rubberised hardcourt.

"Maybe it will hurt in the morning for a little bit, but I don't think it did any damage," he said.

Murray's crash landing in the ninth game of the third set came shortly after a similarly spectacular tumble by a ballboy, whose foot clipped an advertising awning as he chased a ball, sending him splattering into a photographers box.

The boy sat out the next point as he gathered himself. When he got back to his position alongside the court, the giant TV screen at Arthur Ashe Stadium had him on close-up and then showed a replay of his fall.

Another close-up of the fallen ballboy brought a huge ovation from the night show crowd crammed into the arena.

"When the ball kid fell over, you wouldn't get that at any of the other slams where he's up on the big screen and the crowd get into it," said Murray.

He added that he had enjoyed the experience of playing on the centre court at the National tennis Centre.

"It's one of the biggest in the world and it's probably the coolest atmosphere out of all of the slams," he said. "Hopefully I'll play a lot of my matches on there."

There was not such good news for Murray's friend and fellow Briton, Ross Hutchins.

He went out of the doubles when he and Australian partner Stephen Huss lost 2-6 6-4 6-4 to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Olivier Rochus.


Seen highlights of the game today, Murray looks to be relaxed for this tournament. Even though this was a straight set victory Gulbis gave him a hard match.

Great news for Murray was that... "Potential third- and fourth-round opponents Ivo Karlovic and Stanislas Wawrinka suffered surprise defeats". All we need now is Del Potro and Nadal to follow suit :D

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