Sunday 17 December 2017

Murray wants another bite in Big Apple

Andy Murray. Picture: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters
Andy Murray. Picture: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

ANDY MURRAY is eager to get down to the business of trying to hold on to his US Open title.

The Scot was back at the scene of his first grand slam triumph nearly 12 months ago as the draw was made for this year's tournament, which begins at Flushing Meadows on Monday.

Murray arrived in New York last Friday and cannot wait for his first match, which will pit him against 33-year-old French serve-volleyer Michael Llodra.

Murray is the holder of two of the four grand slams having added the Wimbledon title to his collection last month, but defending one will be something new.

The 26-year-old said: "It's obviously tough, it's a new experience for me.

"This week has been a bit busier than normal, there's been a few more demands on my time. I'm looking forward to it. I want the tournament to get started now."

A calendar year in which he has broken his grand-slam duck and ended Britain's long wait for a Wimbledon men's singles champion has certainly lifted the weight from his shoulders, but expectations are higher than ever.

Murray has been enjoying post-Wimbledon life, saying: "It's been nice. The first week it didn't quite feel real. It's something I've been working towards for a long time. There was a lot of pressure, and not just on me but the people before me like Tim Henman.

"I've enjoyed my tennis the last few weeks, but now it's time for business. This is a huge tournament for me. I love this tournament and I'll try to have a good run."

Murray's first week looks relatively comfortable, with Llodra, who he has beaten in all three previous meetings, followed by either Victor Hanescu of Romania or Argentina's Leonardo Mayer, while Juan Monaco, Andreas Seppi and Nicolas Almagro are the seeds standing in his path to the quarter-finals.

A potential last-eight encounter against fifth seed Tomas Berdych, who beat Murray in Cincinnati last week, will certainly not be easy while the Scot was drawn in the same half as top seed Novak Djokovic.

The pair have met in three of the last four grand slam finals, with Murray winning here and at Wimbledon and Djokovic prevailing at the Australian Open, but they can only clash in the semi-finals this time.

Murray had looked likely to be seeded second, meaning he would have avoided Djokovic until the final, but Rafael Nadal's superb run in winning titles in both Montreal and Cincinnati saw him climb to number two in the rankings this week.

Nadal looks to have the trickiest path of all the title contenders, however, including a potential quarter-final against Roger Federer, who is seeded only seventh.

Djokovic begins his campaign against talented Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis and also has a tough-looking quarter that includes Lukas Rosol, Grigor Dimitrov, Tommy Haas and Juan Martin del Potro.

Women's top seed Williams plays former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone in the first round and has fellow American Sloane Stephens, who beat her at the Australian Open, as a possible fourth-round opponent.

Maria Sharapova's withdrawal because of shoulder problems means Agnieszka Radwanska is seeded third and Italy's Sara Errani fourth.

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