© Simon Bruty/USTA

Andy Murray in action against home wild card Emilio Nava at the US Open in New York on Wednesday.

Murray Masters Nava In New York

2012 champion to meet Berrettini next after Italian holds off Grenier to advance

Andy Murray had plenty of thinking to do early in his second-round clash against #NextGenATP American Emilio Nava at the US Open on Wednesday, but the former World No. 1 raised his level to prevail 5-7, 6-3, 6-1, 6-0 and reach the third round in New York.

The 20-year-old Nava clinched a lung-busting 84-minute opening set with a stunning forehand pass to heap pressure on his experienced opponent, but Murray bided his time and began to unpick the Nava game with some consistent baseline hitting on Arthur Ashe Stadium. The 2012 champion won 14 of the final 15 games to reach the third round in New York for the first time in six years.

“I think I started to take the ball on a little bit more,” said Murray in his on-court interview when asked how he had turned the match around. “He was dictating a lot of the points in the first set. Once I started to hit the ball a little bit bigger, a little bit deeper, I was then able to control the points more.

“He (Nava) also played a really long first-round match, a five-setter against John Millman. I think that’s the first five-setter that he’s played, so it’s not always that easy to recover and I think his level dropped a little bit in the third and fourth sets. But he’s a brilliant young player and he’s going to have a very bright future.”

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Murray had won just one of four matches in the North American hard-court swing coming into the US Open, but he downed 24th seed Francisco Cerundolo in straight sets in the opening round and Wednesday’s win against Nava improved the 35-year-old’s record at Flushing Meadows to 48-14. Murray struck 11 fewer winners than World No. 203 Nava (22 to 33), but the Briton believes his trademark defence is just as much of a weapon as his ability to hit winners this fortnight in New York.

“Physcially this is the best I’ve felt in the last few years. My movement is by far the best it has been in a long time. That’s always been a really important part of my game, and nowadays especially with a lot of the guys now hitting a huge ball, you need to be able to defend well. I feel like I’m doing that just now, I’m getting closer to where I want to be and hopefully I can have a deep run here.”

With the win Murray rises to No. 43 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, his highest mark since May 2018. The Briton will next face 13th seed Matteo Berrettini, who also recovered from dropping the opening set in his second-round match, holding firm for a 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(4), 7-6(7) win against Frenchman Hugo Grenier.

The 2019 semi-finalist Berrettini struck 74 winners to Grenier’s 30 in his three-hour, 25-minute triumph on Grandstand, and Murray is more than aware of the Italian’s power, having fallen to the seven-time Tour titlist on the grass in Stuttgart in June.

“He’s had a bit of an unlucky year, to be honest,” said Murray of Berrettini. “I know he got Covid at the beginning of Wimbledon having just won Stuttgart and Queens back-to-back… I think it was a wrist injury he had so he missed pretty much the whole of the clay season as well this year, but when he has been on the court he’s done really, really well.

“We played in the Stuttgart final, a tough three-set match, so I’m expecting it to be really difficult, but if I play well and my return is on point then I’ve got a good chance.”

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