NEW YORK (Reuters) - Third-seeded Briton Andy Murray put on a composed display to overcome the mercurial Nick Kyrgios 7-5 6-3 4-6 6-1 under the Arthur Ashe Stadium lights to reach the second round of the U.S. Open on Tuesday.
The 20-year-old Kyrgios showed off his powerful serve and groundstrokes but the 37th-ranked Australian frequently sacrificed efficiency for showmanship and failed to take advantage of his numerous opportunities.
Murray, the 2012 U.S. Open champion and 2013 Wimbledon winner, played straight man to the flippant Australian, who unnecessarily tried ‘tweener’ shots through his legs and jumped extravagantly on routine forehands that he buried into the net.
Murray had beaten Kyrgios in straight sets in their three previous meetings, eliminating him this year from two other grand slams, in the Australian quarter-finals and third round of the French Open.
But the Scotsman still holds the Australian’s game in high regard.
“He’s played well pretty much in every grand slam tournament that he’s been part of,” Murray said about Kyrgios, who has twice reached grand slam quarter-finals.
“I expected a very tough match, and that’s what I got.”
The Australian, playing under an ATP Tour probation for crude personal comments made to Stan Wawrinka during a match in Montreal last month, should have made the contest much closer but could only convert three of 14 break point opportunities.
”I thought I put in a really good performance tonight,“ said Kyrgios. ”Obviously, it’s not the result I wanted. But I thought I was focused and ready for today.
“I thought I created opportunities. I tried to take them,” he added, bristling at a suggestion he had “wasted” them. “I thought he served pretty clutch in certain situations. His defence was unbelievable again tonight.”
Murray was superior from the service line, hammering in 18 aces to 11 from the hard-hitting Australian.
The Scotsman blasted 46 winners, many coming off ill-advised drop shots floated over the net by the 6-foot-4 Kyrgios, while making 23 unforced errors to 39 for his opponent.
Murray gave the Australian credit for a series of great shots in breaking him at the end of the third set to extend the match, but conceded that Kyrgios can be plagued by lapses of concentration.
“I felt like when he had his dips, I capitalised on them today,” he said.
Even Murray can get distracted by the Australian’s antics.
”I’ve done a pretty good job of just concentrating on my side,“ Murray said. ”But almost all the matches that I’ve played, there have been a couple points where I have laughed on the court or smiled because some of the stuff is funny.
“When he let go of the racquet today after the forehand, I mean, that only happens to him,” he said about comic moment that sent the raquet skittering toward the ballboy behind him.
When asked about some of the flashy shots he tries, Kyrgios said it was just his style.
”I’ve always been an emotional person on the court. And, yeah, I like going for shots that aren’t high percentage. I just got a really good self-confidence.
“I think obviously I’ve had some really big wins. I don’t think I’d be able to have those wins if I didn’t have that sort of confidence by me.”
Murray will next play French left-hander Adrian Mannarino, a 7-6 6-4 6-1 winner over Russian Konstantin Kravchuk.
Editing by John O'Brien/Sudipto Ganguly