While Roger Federer is being missed at the 2020 US Open, the fans were treated to some top-drawer entertainment anyway as three-time Major winner Andy Murray did a Houdini act in his first round match on Tuesday. The Scot pulled off a stunning five-set victory over Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka, even saving a match point in the process.
This was Andy Murray's first men's singles match at a Major since the 2019 Australian Open, but among the most gritty of his entire career. After going two sets and a break down against an inspired Nishioka, Murray mounted a stirring comeback in the last three sets to finally clinch victory after more than four hours.
The Scot usually feeds off the crowd during tense matches like these, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic no spectators are allowed at the Arthur Ashe Stadium. However, Murray's colleagues came to his rescue as they cheered him on during the latter stages of the marathon battle.
Andy Murray touched on this topic during his press conference, talking about how the suites at US Open have been helpful for the players. He also reminisced about Roger Federer having watched a match of his from the stands in 2012, which the Scot found 'weird'.
"Just having some people there helps just a little bit" - Andy Murray
Given that he is out of action due to injury, Roger Federer was not in attendance as Murray battled it out at Flushing Meadows on Tuesday. However, that was more than made up for as several other top players like Serena Williams, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Grigor Dimitrov watched on from their lavish suites, in what was otherwise a flat atmosphere at the stadium.
When asked how he felt about the player suites, Andy Murray lauded USTA's effort in that regard and said:
"Yeah, I mean, the seats and stuff that you've got to watch from is brilliant. It's really nice out there. I mean, I think for the players, just having some people there helps just a little bit. When Cameron Norrie was playing, quite a few of the British players went out to watch and support him."
The 2012 US Open champion also noted that in normal times, players are not able to watch their colleagues play as most fans swarm them with requests for autographs and pictures whenever they are on-site. But the special suites this year act as a balcony with the main court in their direct line of sight, allowing the players to watch and support their peers.
'Seeing Roger Federer in my opponent's box was weird' - Andy Murray
Andy Murray was also asked by one of the media personnel if he had ever looked up during a match and felt awkward about anyone watching him. The Scot answered with an interesting anecdote from the 2012 Olympics, where Roger Federer watched Murray play his first round match - albeit from the opponent's camp.
"When I played in the Olympics against Wawrinka in the first round in London, Roger Federer was sitting in his box for that match. That was quite weird. I don't know," Murray recalled.
"It was just a bit weird looking up and seeing him sitting in the players box when usually you look up and see kind of coaches and family and what-not. He was there in his Swiss track suit and stuff," Murray added, before asserting that he was not distracted by Roger Federer watching his match.
Andy Murray would eventually beat Federer's compatriot Stan Wawrinka 6-3 6-3, before going on to thrash Federer himself in the final. The Olympics win over the Swiss was sweet revenge for Murray, who had lost to Roger Federer a week ago in the 2012 Wimbledon final.Published 02 Sep 2020, 13:10 IST