NEW YORK (Reuters) - Andy Murray was not happy about having to wait until Wednesday night to open defense of his U.S. Open title but the Briton was quite pleased with the result after delivering a masterly thrashing of Michael Llodra.
Wimbledon champion Murray, whose starting time was further delayed after four hours of rain delays had stalled proceedings at Flushing Meadows, raced through an entertaining 6-2 6-4 6-3, 98-minute drubbing of the 49th-ranked Frenchman on centre court.
“The rallies were quick, sharp. Wasn’t much time between points. He was playing quickly on his serves in between points,” the third-seeded Scot rattled off like winners from his racquet.
“It was a fairly, I thought, high standard match. Lots of reactions and dropshots, and definitely tested my movement today. I thought I moved well. I didn’t make too many errors.
“It was a solid match.”
The world number three’s only lapse on Arthur Ashe Stadium court was when he allowed the Frenchman to break his serve in the second game of the second set.
Murray, who made only five unforced errors, faced just two break points while converting a tidy five-of-seven to set up a second-round clash against Leonardo Mayer of Argentina, a 7-6 (4) 6-4 3-6 7-6 (4) winner against Romania’s Victor Hanescu.
The Briton put on a splendid show of athleticism, with his cat-like agility, timing at the net and piercing angles on his groundstrokes.
Llodra entertained with a ‘hot dog’ shot between his legs, an underarm serve, a juggling of the tennis ball with his feet and a futile tossing of his racquet into the air as Murray’s soft, tantalizing lob carried over him on match point.
Despite those good vibes, the 26-year-old from Dunblane still registered his disdain over waiting so long to join the fray in the last grand slam tournament of the season.
“I think playing at that time for your first round is not ideal,” Murray said. “It’s just not ideal.
“I don’t know how many guys have played their first match at 9 p.m. on a Wednesday.
“You just want to get on the court and play.”
When all was said and done, Murray enjoyed his return to the scene of his maiden grand slam victory a little less than a year ago, a five-set triumph over long-time rival and friend Novak Djokovic.
“It was nice. Going back onto that court again for me was the nicest part about it because, obviously, I have great memories here from last year.
“I didn’t necessarily feel like I had much time to enjoy last year because I was so relieved. I was also a little bit in disbelief as well.
“To actually be out there and play a night match in front of a big crowd was really nice. I performed well. It was good.”
Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by John O'Brien