Draw shaping up well for Murray
Andy Murray is back on track at the US Open and finds his nightmare draw opening up.
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After the cramp-induced drama of his first-round win over Robin Haase, Murray enjoyed a smooth passage through to round three against German qualifier Matthias Bachinger on Thursday night.
Instead of heat and humidity, a strong wind provided the meteorological obstacle for the pair but Murray, who grew up playing in windy conditions in Scotland, was in his element.
All facets of the eighth seed's game were working nicely and he needed only an hour and 46 minutes to wrap up a 6-3 6-3 6-4 victory.
The next test for Murray comes in the shape of Russian former Wimbledon junior champion Andrey Kuznetsov, who upset Fernando Verdasco in five sets on Thursday.
Much was made of Murray's treacherous path when the draw was made last Thursday but the first two likely dangermen, Radek Stepanek and Verdasco, were both accounted for by other players.
Murray has been here before. At Wimbledon last year, the Scot's draw appeared to be formidable but he did not end up facing a top-10 player until the final.
Not that Murray will be underestimating 23-year-old Kuznetsov, who he has never faced before in a match or in practice.
"He's had a couple of big wins in the slams this year," said Murray, whose knowledge of other players is unfailingly excellent.
"He beat (David) Ferrer at Wimbledon and obviously here against Verdasco. I've never played him before. I don't know his game that well, but I've seen him play a little bit.
"He hits the ball pretty flat. Likes to go for his shots a lot. This court's fairly quick, so that will probably help him, as well. But I'll watch a little bit of video (on Friday) evening, try to understand his game a bit better."
Should he get past Kuznetsov, the main dangers in his section still lurk in the form of potential fourth-round opponent Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and world number one Novak Djokovic, who he is seeded to meet in the quarter-finals.
Having played in the cool of the night session, Murray is likely to be back in the heat of the day against Kuznetsov.
He still does not know why cramp struck against Haase but will not worry unduly about the possibility of a repeat episode.
"You just take each day as it comes," he said.
"You never know what's going to happen from day to day. Monday was very, very hot, humid conditions.
"(Against Bachinger) it was pretty cool at the end, extremely windy, a different court. Each day in tennis things change. So you've just got to move on, trust the work that you've done and get ready for the next match."
Kuznetsov, ranked 96th, has taken his time to make his mark in the senior ranks after his Wimbledon title in 2009 but has now reached the third round at successive grand slams.
Beating Ferrer at Wimbledon was particularly impressive given the Spaniard's consistency at the slams, and the similarity between the two tournaments was not lost on the Russian.
Kuznetsov said: "It seems like destiny. Second time, very similar situation. First round I beat a local guy and then second round I play with a Spanish guy and beat him in five sets.
"Before the match my girlfriend told me it's probably going to be destiny and you should win in five sets. I did not think about this during the match but it happened like this."
The bad news for Kuznetsov is that he lost his third-round match at Wimbledon to Leonardo Mayer, and he knows he has his work cut out against Murray.
"There is no pressure and I will try to do my best," he said.
"I'll try to play aggressively. That's the way I try to play every game. I will try to show my best tennis, my aggressive tennis, and I hope it will help me to get chances and to use them."
Kuznetsov has been coached by his father Alexander for his whole career and hails from a sporting family.
"From four years old I was with a racquet," he said with a smile.
Working so closely with his father he admits has its "minuses and pluses".
"Obviously it gives me some advantages before and still," he said.
"When I was a child, I could speak to him whenever I wanted to and he could help me and he could give me some advice. The other kids probably didn't have that.
"But sometimes it's a little bit difficult because we see each other at home, we see each other on court. Whenever I have the chance, I go somewhere else."