Andy Murray buoyed by VIP spectators at US Open stands, saying it helped to inspire comeback
Andy Murray’s heroics on his return to Grand Slam singles action managed to draw a crowd even though the stands were empty at Flushing Meadows.
As Murray began his comeback from two sets down in his US Open first-round match against Japanese world No 49 Yoshihito Nishioka, some notable spectators began to appear outside the hospitality boxes in the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Naomi Osaka, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev were among the interested onlookers along with fellow Brit Kyle Edmund and Murray’s brother Jamie.
— LTA (@the_LTA) September 1, 2020
The 33-year-old, who usually feeds off the tension of playing in front of a packed crowd, was as flat as the atmosphere in the opening two sets.
But in front his new fan club, Murray dug deep to pull off an epic 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 victory.
He said: “That for me was one of the things that helped. It’s rare that you have lots of players watching your match.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 1, 2020
“In some ways that can be a little bit distracting if you look up and you’ve got guys that are in the top five, top 10 in the world watching you and stuff.
“But for me, I had my father-in-law there. He was up in the suite watching me. I had my brother there with his coach watching. There were a few of the British players that came out to watch and support, as well.
“Although the atmosphere was very flat overall, at the end of the match and as I was starting to turn it around, I could at least look up and see some faces in different points of the court to give me a little bit of encouragement, which definitely, definitely helped.”
It was 20 months ago that Murray made his tearful admission in Australia that his longstanding hip injury could force him to quit the sport.
A few days later the Scot lost a punishing five-setter to Roberto Bautista Agut, and then watched a montage of happy retirement messages from his fellow competitors on the big screen.
But 596 days, a metal hip, a brief but enjoyable doubles sojourn and a global pandemic later, Murray was back playing singles at a grand slam, a triumph in itself.
And the two-time Wimbledon champion clearly did not go through two surgeries and months and months of rehabilitation just to get turfed out in the opening round.
— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) September 1, 2020
“Physically I actually did pretty well,” he added. “My toes and stuff were hurting. Actually I did pretty well for being such a long match.
“I don’t know if that was because I maybe didn’t use up so much energy the first couple sets because I was sort of pacing myself a little bit. But I did quite well physically.”
Murray will face 20-year-old Felix Auger Aliassime, the world No 21, in the second round.
Follow us on Twitter @T365Official.
Rafael Nadal is looking ‘beatable’ on clay going into Roland Garros, says Novak Djokovic
Will conditions hamper Spaniard?
Novak Djokovic describes Italian Open as ‘a great but challenging week’ after record Masters win
World number one in confident mood.
Novak Djokovic claims fifth Italian Open title with hard-earned win over Diego Schwartzman
Djokovic still sort of unbeaten.
Simona Halep maintains fine form by winning Italian Open after Karolina Pliskova retires injured
Third time lucky for Romanian.
Novak Djokovic concedes he ‘deserved’ warning from umpire as anger issues continue
Serb continues to court controversy.
‘It will be strange without Rafael Nadal in the final,’ admits Novak Djokovic
Djokovic says he won’t underestimate Argentine.
Five players out of Roland Garros qualifying following positive coronavirus tests, officials confirm
Two players return positive tests.
Novak Djokovic survives Casper Ruud scare to advance into Italian Open final in Rome
Djokovic chasing title number 81.
Simona Halep holds off Garbine Muguruza to reach third Italian Open final
Halep is looking for a first title in Rome.