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Murray, Johnson advance to US Open second round

Murray won Lukas Rosol of Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 during the 2016 US Open, just as Steve Johnson dispatched Evgeny Donskoy, 4-6, 1-6, 7-6, 6-3, 6-3

During his first spell with Ivan Lendl, Andy Murray won Olympic gold, the US Open and Wimbledon. 

Now reunited with the Czech, the No. 2 seed is just six matches away from a full repeat.

He downed his first-round opponent, Lukas Rosol, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, to reach the second round of the US Open.

Any meeting between a top seed and Rosol inevitably conjures up memories of the Czech’s astonishing victory over Rafael Nadal during the 2012 Championships at Wimbledon.

That night, Rosol – then ranked 100th in the world – blasted past the Spaniard in five sets, with his colossal ground strokes peaking at 114mph.

When Rosol produces that sort of performance, he can beat anyone on the Tour. The issue, though, is consistency. 

And after a bright start replete with monster forehands, Rosol’s level dropped for a game. 

When it’s Murray on the other side of the net, a single off-game can be terminal.

Although Rosol fended off three set points in his next service game, the 2012 champion closed it out to take the opener.

A player who paints the lines when he’s in the zone, there was little risk of the white lines on Arthur Ashe becoming discolored by the Czech’s shots in the second set. 

Loose service game followed loose service game, while Murray was in cruise control.

He briefly broke out of it to force an error with a jumping backhand volley that drew gasps from the crowd, and gave him a 4-0 lead.

To be fair to Rosol, his only viable game plan was to go for his shots and hope for a repeat of his Nadal show from four years ago. 

You suspect that even if he had reached that level, though, Murray would still have found an answer, such was the caliber of his opening performance.

Murray’s showing – and the match – was summed up by a rally at 2-2, 15-15, in the third set.

That was when Murray soaked up all of Rosol’s power for 28 shots before stealing the point away with a sublime drop shot. 

Murray then wrapped up the third set courtesy of two breaks, advancing without facing a single break point on his own serve.

JOHNSON STAGES DRAMATIC COMEBACK AGAINST DONSKOY

Murray won Lukas Rosol of Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 during the 2016 US Open, just as Steve Johnson dispatched Evgeny Donskoy, 4-6, 1-6, 7-6, 6-3, 6-3More than three hours after he took to the new Grandstand on Tuesday night, Steve Johnson wore a solemn look, stared at his box and pointed to his heart. 

The American had just completed the best comeback of this year’s US Open. 

And his heart – his desire to win again at his home Grand Slam tournament – might best explain how exactly the No. 19 seed was the one celebrating at the end of the match.

Down 6-4, 6-1, 5-2, Johnson saved seven match points, including five on his serve at 2-5.

He transformed into a different player to beat Russian Evgeny Donskoy, 4-6, 1-6, 7-6, 6-3, 6-3, in three hours, 12 minutes. 

The comeback marks the second time in his five-year career that Johnson has eliminated a two-set deficit. 

The other time came at the 2014 French Open, when he beat world No. 406 Laurent Lokoli, 4-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Asked how he pulled out the win in an on-court interview after the match, Johnson said he wasn’t sure.

“The last three-and-a-half hours have been a little bit of a blur, to be honest. 

“I was ready to pack my bags and go home, and I just found a way to get out of that service game at 5-2,” he said. 

“After winning the third, I just gave myself a shot. I just figured maybe my best stuff’s not today.

“But I’ll use my legs and run and just find a way. And that’s what I’ve been doing all my life.

“That’s what I’m going to continue to do.”

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