NEW YORK (AP) — Andy Murray shrugged off any risk of distraction from a rain delay and recorded a straight-sets victory over Michael Llodra on Wednesday to begin his U.S. Open title defense in authoritative style.
Murray's match did not begin until almost 10 p.m. local time after a lengthy rain delay, and the Scot put on a near flawless performance to notch a 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 victory.
Murray, who is seeded third, made only five unforced errors while compiling 34 winners in the 1-hour, 38-minute match, disguising his dissatisfaction with the scheduling.
"Playing at that time for your first round is not ideal," Murray said.
"We were told on Saturday, 'Would you like to play on Tuesday or Wednesday?' We said, 'Tuesday.' They then told us the next day, 'It's looking like it's going to be Wednesday. ... It will be during the day on Wednesday,'" Murray explained. "Yesterday, as we were leaving ... we were told, 'It's looking like you're going to be playing in the evening.'"
Four hours of rain delays earlier in the day pushed back action, and then Murray's match was preceded in Arthur Ashe Stadium by Juan Martin del Potro's match, which lasted more than four hours.
"When the weather's like that, it's distressing for everyone — for the referees, the organizers, for the players. You just want to get on the court and play," he said. "Whether it's on Arthur Ashe or Court 15, it doesn't really matter. You just want to play your match."
Murray, who last month became the first British man in 77 years to win Wimbledon and who is defending a grand slam title for the first time, did not seem bothered too much by all the fuss once he was across the net from Llodra.
"I'm very happy everyone stayed behind to watch," Murray told the spectators in a postmatch interview. "I know it was late, but it made it special to come back to a full house."
In the second round, the Scot will play 81st-ranked Leonardo Mayer of Argentina.
Mayer, who beat Victor Hanescu of Romania 7-6 (4), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (4) Wednesday, said that to win, "I will need to play very inspired."
Mayer noted it would help, too, if Murray "also plays badly."
Despite the lopsided scoreline, Murray and Llodra put on an entertaining show. Llodra is an old-school, serve-and-volley player, and he even mixed in one underhand serve and a between-the-legs shot Wednesday.
"It's tough to concentrate, because he's so unpredictable. ... You've just got to be ready for anything," Murray said. "It's always fun playing against him, but it's tough."
The only real glitch for Murray came at the outset of the second set, when he fell behind 3-0. But from there, he quickly turned things around, and finished that set with flair, coming up with a backpedaling, over-the-shoulder, hook shot volley winner while serving it out at love.