BRITISH No1 Andy Murray earned a place in the US Open third round last night and insisted he was delighted with his performance against an opponent as tough as Michael Llodra.
Sixth seed Murray, enjoying the highest grand slam seeding of his career, needed four sets to overcome tricky left-hander Llodra, France’s world No38, but was thrilled to have come through the test 6-4 1-6 7-5 7-6 (9-7) at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in New York.
“It was always going to be tough,” Murray said. “He’s got a huge serve and being a lefty makes it tougher.
“He’s won doubles slams before – two tournaments at the start of this year.
“He will give anyone a tough match – very rarely will he lose easily. He moves really well up at the net, doesn’t give you a lot of rhythm, and I think he’s definitely in the top two or three net players for now.
“There’s very few guys that play that well up at the net. And he moves well up there, too. It was a tough match.”
Murray, who next faces world No48 Jurgen Melzer of Austria, claimed the combination of Llodra’s chip-and-charge tactics and his big serve made the Frenchman doubly difficult to break down.
“I don’t mind playing against guys that come to the net a lot, but he serves so well. That’s what makes it tough,” he said.
“When you find it hard to break someone and they’re coming in all the time against you, then it makes it tricky.
“But I started to return well towards the end of the third set – obviously broke him twice in the fourth. That was the difference compared with the first three sets, even though I won the set.
“Apart from the game where I broke him, I won very few points on his serve. Same again in the second set, so it was really tricky.
“He’s a really tough guy to play against and I was happy I won in four sets.”
One of Murray’s biggest difficulties was dealing with a number of disputed line calls in a packed Grandstand Stadium yesterday, which the 21-year-old Scot said was an arena that should have been equipped with Hawk-eye technology.
“Hawk-Eye is very expensive, but I think when there’s a huge crowd like that, it’s absolutely packed, great atmosphere, the crowd are enjoying it, they’re making a lot of noise,” he said.
“Hawk-Eye is obviously for the players but also I think the reason why it came into tennis is because the fans really enjoy it. And I think it’s tough, as well, for officials. There’s a lot of pressure when you’ve got a court that’s that close, the fans are making a bit of noise.
“I’d rather have Hawk-Eye on every single court, but I understand that it’s very, very expensive, although it would have made a difference.”
World No1 Rafael Nadal, meanwhile, ousted American Ryler De Heart 6-1 6-2 6-4 in the second round.
Taking over at the top from long-time No1 Roger Federer, Nadal has been on a roll in 2008, capturing his fourth straight French Open title, grabbing the crown at Wimbledon and taking the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.
But ladies top seed Ana Ivanovic was left stunned after being beaten 6-3 4-6 6-3 by Julie Coin in the second round.
Ranked 188th in the word, the Frenchwoman recorded eight aces and scored from 34 unforced errors by Ivanovic to oust the Serb.