NEW YORK (Reuters) - Britain’s Andy Murray produced a masterful performance against Tomas Berdych to book his place in the U.S. Open final on Saturday but will have to wait to discover his opponent after foul weather wreaked havoc.
The forecast of a massive thunderstorm forced tournament officials to suspend the remainder of Saturday’s schedule, including the second men’s semi-final between Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer and the women’s final between Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka.
Those matches were both rescheduled for Sunday, meaning the men’s final will be pushed back until Monday, for the fifth year in a row.
“It was not too difficult a decision to make,” tournament director David Brewer said. “The good news is that Sunday is going to be beautiful day.”
Ferrer was leading Djokovic 5-2 in the first set when they were told to pack up as organizers decided to clear Flushing Meadows before the storm arrived.
The conditions were already terrible for tennis with all the players struggling just to hit the ball in the near gale-force winds.
“It was some of the hardest conditions I’ve ever played in,” said Murray. “And I come from Scotland, so that’s saying something.”
Murray handled the wind better than Berdych, a big hitter who relies heavily on his power game. The Czech, who has the highest ball toss of any player on the tour, made 64 unforced errors compared to Murray’s 20.
“Our sport deserves to have some rule if the conditions are like that,” he growled.
Murray is now bidding to become the first British man to win a grand slam singles title since Fred Perry won the U.S. Open in 1936 when tennis was still played with wooden rackets and in long trousers.
The Scotsman has played in four previous grand slam finals, the U.S. Open in 2008, the Australian Open in 2010 and 2011 and Wimbledon this year, but lost the lot, raising questions about his mental strength on the biggest stage.
But he silenced a lot of his doubters when he won the gold medal at the London Olympics this year and has continued his great form at Flushing Meadows over the past fortnight.
“I’ve never made two grand slam finals in a year, so that’s obviously a good sign that I‘m playing better and still learning,” he said.
“And the Olympics was the biggest win of my career by far. It meant a lot to me.”
His match against Berdych was delayed for an hour and a half because of wild morning storms, including a tornado that made landfall in Queens, the same New York City borough where the annual tournament is held.
Both players repeatedly had to abort their serves as the gusts caught their ball tosses and the players were forced to slow down their serves just to land them in court.
Murray dropped serve in the first set when he agreed to replay a crucial point after his cap was blown off his head, distracting Berdych as he scrambled to get to a drop shot.
A handful of other points were delayed when scraps of litter were whipped into the air current and Murray had to replay a serve in the second set after a blast of wind toppled his courtside chair and scattered the contents of his bag on the playing service.
Berdych took the opening set after 77 minutes but became increasingly frustrated as the match went on.
Murray ripped through the second and third sets and appeared to be on his way to a comfortable win when he opened up a 3-0 lead in the fourth before momentarily losing his way.
Berdych broke back and forced a tiebreaker. He led 5-2 and got to set point but Murray rallied back to seal victory and get a surprise visit from Sean Connery and Alex Ferguson during his post-match news conference.
“Hopefully they’ll be back for the final as well,” Murray said.
“I hope this one is a different story.”
Editing by Gene Cherry