Andy Murray advanced at the expense of Spaniard, Marcel Granollers, finishing a 6-4 6-1 6-4 victory with an ace at the US Open.
In years gone by, days like Thursday would have been the ultimate frustration for players and fans alike at Flushing Meadows.
The rain teeming down, then ceasing, then coming down again – players dragged off court, then back on again at short notice, then off once more.
At least for one of the courts, that has all changed now – for play carried on under the giant canopy above Arthur Ashe Stadium, with the rain drumming down on the newly-constructed roof.
So it was that Simona Halep, Murray, Venus and Serena Williams and Juan Martin del Potro all advanced untroubled by the rain on Thursday.
All five managed straight sets victories, but fans could not fault the contests for entertainment.
It reached a peak during the first set of Murray’s match with the wily Spaniard ranked No. 45 in the world.
Murray raced out to an early lead, breaking the Granollers serve at the first attempt and establishing control of the contest.
Granollers saved a set point to force Murray to serve it out at 5-3. The world No. 2 is one of the best at converting opportunities such as these.
But Granollers is a stubborn character, who refused to be intimidated by Murray’s snarling groundstrokes.
The Spaniard worked up, then missed, three break point chances, saved a further two set points, and then finally achieved the break when Murray put a volley wide.
Serving to stay in the set, Granollers had numerous opportunities to level things up.
But Murray conjured up more set point chances and finally took the opener with a forehand into open court having chased down a Granollers dropshot.
The first set alone took 67 minutes.
After surviving some early pressure on serve, Murray raced away from Granollers to take the second.
It’s now a recurring theme, as Murray was unable to achieve to put more than 50% of his first deliveries in court at any point during the match
He was undistracted by the rain pounding down on the roof above, which created such a din that he later said he was struggling to hear Granollers’ shots.
Murray sealed the crucial break at 4-4 in the third set and, this time, the 2012 champion had no difficulty serving out, finishing a 64 61 64 victory with an ace.
“I served at like 40, 42% first serves or something [he undersold himself slightly, it was 43%] and still won in straight sets,” Murray said later.
“I must have been doing other things well than serving. I was obviously hitting the ball pretty well and returning pretty good.”
Was the noise under the roof a problem? “We use our ears when we play, it’s not just the eyes,” he explained.
“It helps us pick up the speed of the ball, the spin that’s on the ball, how hard someone’s hitting it.
“If we played with our ears covered or with headphones on, it would be a big advantage if your opponent wasn’t wearing them.”
Illuminating – of all the physical attributes that we talk about with tennis players, it’s not often we hear about the importance of their ears.
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