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US Open 2016: Andy Murray comes through tricky challenge to beat Paolo Lorenzi in four sets

The Independent logo The Independent 04-09-2016 Paul Newman
© Provided by Independent Print Limited

Andy Murray is through to the fourth round of the US Open but the world No 2’s passage into the last 16 was significantly more difficult than he might have expected. Having won his first two matches in straight sets, Murray was pushed hard by the veteran Italian Paolo Lorenzi before winning 7-6, 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 after more than three and a quarter hours.

There had been some speculation as to whether Lorenzi would even be able to start the match after his exertions in the previous round. The world No 40 had needed nearly five hours to complete a marathon five-set victory over Gilles Simon on Thursday night, at the end of which he was so exhausted that he was barely able to walk.

The 34-year-old’s Grand Slam record hardly suggested he would be a test for Murray. Lorenzi fell in qualifying for 23 Grand Slam tournaments before finally making the main draw at the French Open two years ago. In winning his first two matches here he had doubled his total of victories at Grand Slam tournaments. Earlier in the summer he became the oldest man ever to win his first tournament on the main tour when he triumphed in Kitzbuhel.

<span style="font-size:13px;">Italy's Paolo Lorenzi fires a backhand during his defeat in New York (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)</span> © Provided by Independent Print Limited Italy's Paolo Lorenzi fires a backhand during his defeat in New York (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

A routine victory for Murray in Arthur Ashe Stadium appeared to be the most likely outcome, but it was soon clear that the story would be very different. The 29-year-old Scot was clearly the superior player, but he kept trying to finish the rallies too quickly, and in the first two sets made a catalogue of unforced errors. As Lorenzi kept putting the ball back in play, Murray repeatedly pulled the trigger, only to misfire.

Murray made a remarkable 63 unforced errors in the match, including 56 in the first two sets. It was only when he reverted to a more cautious game that the Wimbledon champion stamped his authority on the match.

Asked afterwards how he had turned the contest around, Murray said: “I stopped rushing in the rallies. I was making quite a few unforced errors. He’s an extremely solid player. He doesn’t give you many cheap points. I was trying to get cheap points. I was going for too much.

“When I actually slowed things down and waited for the right shot to go for, my unforced errors went down and my winners went up and the scoreboard started working in my favour as well.”

Murray, who had the tension on his rackets changed in the middle of the match to help him control his shots better, made a slow start. Lorenzi broke at 4-4 but failed to serve out for the opening set, which Murray eventually took by winning the tie-break 7-4.

<span style="font-size:13px;">Murray made a remarkable 63 unforced errors in the match, including 56 in the first two sets (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)</span> © Provided by Independent Print Limited Murray made a remarkable 63 unforced errors in the match, including 56 in the first two sets (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

When Murray broke in the opening game of the second set he might have been expected to take a firm grip on the match, but instead the pattern continued as mistakes flowed from the Scot’s racket. Lorenzi broke back immediately, failed to serve out for the set at 5-4 but took it by breaking again when Murray served at 5-6.

With Murray looking exasperated and out of sorts the alarm bells were ringing, but to his great credit Murray quickly turned the match around. By cutting out his errors the Scot took an early lead in both the third and fourth sets before closing out his victory.

In the fourth round Murray will face Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2. Murray has won six of his previous nine matches against the 25-year-old Bulgarian, but lost to him in the Wimbledon quarter-finals two years ago and in their most recent meeting at the Miami Masters in March.

“It will be a tough match,” Murray said. “Grigor has been playing well in the last few weeks. He’s a tough player, moves well, has a lot of good shots. He’s a very talented guy so it will be a tough one. Hopefully I’ll play a good match because I’ll need to if I want to win.”

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