Andy Murray gave himself a pat on the back after scoring his most comfortable Grand Slam win in five years in the first round of the US Open.
The Scot defeated 24th-seeded Argentinian Francisco Cerundolo 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 in muggy conditions in New York – the first time he has won a Grand Slam match in straight sets since Wimbledon in 2017 won.
After entering the competition with narrow wins and concerns over a cramp problem that had affected him in several games, it was a very positive start to his campaign.
Murray said: “Mentally it’s not easy going into a five-set match in these conditions after the last few weeks have gone by for me and I’ve done well.
“I’ve done well physically and mentally to put that on the back burner and find a way to get through it. I was really happy with that.
“It was really difficult conditions out there. In the beginning it was actually ok, but towards the end it got really hot and muggy. I thought I did a pretty good job out there. Could have finished a few sets quicker but overall it was a solid performance.
“Obviously it’s always nice, especially in these conditions and early in a slam, to get through in straight sets. He’s a top player and he’s probably getting better and better. It was a good win for me.”
Cerundolo has climbed the rankings quickly this year, but he’s scored most of his points on clay – despite reaching the semifinals in Miami in the spring.
He is also yet to win a Grand Slam match and Murray’s tactical acumen was particularly evident in the second and third sets, the only real downside being not serving all three sets.
Ten years after his first Grand Slam title and with Ivan Lendl back in his box, Murray remains optimistic he will have more Grand Slam days to remember.
On-court coaching is allowed for the first time this year, and Murray said of Lendl with a smile: “He’s a man of few words. He didn’t say much but having him there to support me is really important.
“We’ve had some great results together and he’s still supporting me at this stage in my career when a lot of people wouldn’t.”
Murray also praised his opponent for giving him a point in the 10th game of the first set after the referee missed a double bounce as Cerundolo struggled to get to a drop volley.
The referee couldn’t reverse his decision, but after Murray was backed up by two slow-motion replays on the big screen, Cerundolo stepped in.
“What he did was brilliant and I don’t think many players on the tour would have done that,” Murray said. “Fair play for him. And I told him that online.”
Murray hasn’t progressed past the second round since 2016 in New York but appears to have a good chance here, with American wildcard Emilio Nava needing five sets to defeat John Millman next.
“I actually batted with him a few days ago so it was good to get on the court with him,” Murray said.
“I saw a bit of his match today but actually being on the court with someone and feeling his shots helps when you don’t know much about him.”