Andy Murray demolishes 24th seed Francisco Cerundolo in straight sets as Brit avoids cramps in classy US Open opener
ANDY MURRAY emerged cramp-free from a stress-free US Open opener as he enjoyed a first straight-sets Slam win since career-saving surgery.
The Scot, 35, had suffered painful cramps in recent weeks while playing tournaments on US and Canadian soil.
But there were no apparent physical issues on the opening day of this hard-court Slam as he swatted aside No.24 seed Francisco Cerundolo 7-5 6-3 6-3 in two hours and 42 minutes.
Surprisingly, it was the first time since the fourth round of Wimbledon five years ago – and first following his crucial hip operation in January 2019 – that he emerged from a five-set encounter without dropping at least one set.
Sweat test results taken last week did not provide any clues as to why he has repeatedly seized up since playing in North America following his second-round exit at Wimbledon last month.
Murray, the 2012 US Open champion, made a conceited effort to take on-board plenty of fluids during this tie and was constantly drinking water bottles in-between games.
Keeping hydrated could prove pivotal if he wants to have a good run in the Big Apple, especially as he has not reached the quarter-finals of a major since Wimbledon 2017.
This was a decent match-up in the midday New York sunshine between two committed players and the first set on the Louis Armstrong Stadium took a gruelling 65 minutes to complete.
Murray eventually clinched the lead thanks to a double fault from Cerundolo in the 12th game.
Yet in the tenth game there was a wonderful moment of drama when Cerundolo won the point but on closer observation the ball illegally bounced TWICE before he had returned it over the net.
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An enraged Murray consulted with the umpire, who had missed the infringement, and fans made their feelings known towards the Buenos Aires battler with a series of catcalls and boos.
When Cerundolo, 24, saw the incident again replayed on the giant screen, he realised his error and conceded the point.
Instead of it being 15-15, the score was changed to 0-30 in Murray’s favour and the Scot gave a thumbs up in acknowledgement.
In the second set, Murray had the measure of his opponent who had never won a main draw singles clash at one of the four Slams.
And when the former world No.1 finally claimed the second set, his coach Ivan Lendl uttered a few words of encouragement having previously sat there in a stony-faced mood.
There was little messing about by Murray in the third set and he will now face either Australian John Millman or American wildcard Emilio Nava in the second round on Wednesday.
Speaking after his victory, Murray said: “That felt like five sets to me. Very, very tricky conditions, very humid and hot. But yeah, I am really happy with how I got through that one.
“It wasn’t easy. He has had a brilliant year. I knew I was going to have to play well and I did in the important moments.
“The support was amazing, usually the 11am matches sometimes are a little bit quiet but the crowd was brilliant from the beginning right through to the end.
“Obviously I love playing in these sorts of atmospheres, it helps when you get the support when you play in those conditions.
“It pushes you a bit further maybe than you think you can at times. I really enjoyed it.”
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