NEW YORK (Reuters) - Andy Murray’s quest to claim his first grand slam began with a workmanlike 7-6 6-2 6-3 victory over Somdev Devvarman of India Wednesday at a sun-splashed U.S. Open.
Murray won a tough first set then raced away to seal victory in just under two and a half hours then declared he could “play better and that’s important.”
“I don’t think you want to be playing your best tennis right at the beginning of the tournament,” said the Scotsman.
“That’s something that over the years I’ve got better at.
“I would get very frustrated in matches if I wasn’t playing great right at the beginning. But today I didn’t start the match great.
“I calmed down more as the match went on and fought my way out of a little bit of a tricky situation in the first set. So I’m happy I can still improve.”
Murray, a finalist at the 2008 U.S. Open and the fourth seed this year, won the opening set in 70 minutes, winning the tiebreaker 7-5.
Devvarman’s energy level appeared to drop following the first set, with the 24-year-old Murray needing only 77 minutes to capture the remaining two sets.
Murray made 44 unforced errors, three more than his total of winners. But he found his stride after the opening set and hardly broke sweat on a hot and humid day at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
An overwhelmed Devvarman immediately signaled it could be Murray’s turn to reach the grand-slam summit.
“He’s come so close so many times, in my mind it’s just a matter of time before he goes out and wins a slam,” said Devvarman. “I don’t know which one it will be.
“But I think the U.S. Open suits him quite well. He’s done well here before so you never know. He did win Cincinnati (two weeks ago) so it’s all the same players.
“The only difference is if he can do it three out of five sets.”
In the second round, Murray will face Robin Haase of the Netherlands, who cruised by Portugal’s Rui Machado 6-0 6-4 6-4 earlier Wednesday.
“He’s tough, a tough player,” said Murray, a finalist at the Australian Open each of the past two years. “He nearly beat Rafa (Nadal) a few years ago at Wimbledon. Got to be ready for that one. He’s talented. Has quite a big game.
“He’ll start off very fast, very flashy. He likes playing on the big courts. He’s tough and he’ll come out swinging, so I need to try and weather that, play a solid match.”
Editing by Julian Linden