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Murray marches past Llodra in opener

NEW YORK, Aug 29, 2013, Reuters

China's Jie knocks out former champ Venus

Andy Murray

He waited a lot longer than he expected but Andy Murray finally began his US Open defence on Wednesday with an emphatic straight-sets victory that lit up an otherwise gloomy day at Flushing Meadows.

A quirky schedule combined with persistent rain left Murray waiting until almost 0200 GMT on the third night before he finally started his first-round match against Frenchman Michael Llodra.

With his patience beginning to wear thin, the Scotsman was in a hurry to make up for lost time in his first match back at Arthur Ashe stadium since he won his first Grand Slam title 12 months ago.

He whipped Llodra 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 in just over 90 minutes with a brilliant display of shotmaking that left the New York crowd wanting more on a day when dozens of matches were postponed because of foul weather.

"It was more kind of going back onto that court again... obviously I have great memories here from last year," Murray said.

"I didn't necessarily feel like I had much time to enjoy last year because I was so relieved. I was also a little bit in disbelief, as well.

"To actually be out there and play a night match in front of a big crowd was really nice. I performed well. It was good."

Of the remaining matches that were completed, Venus Williams was the biggest casualty, sent packing following a 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5) loss to China's Zheng Jie after the pair had slugged it out for more than three hours.

Once the undisputed Queen of Flushing, the 33-year-old American's best days now seem behind her after she crashed to her third successive second-round defeat at the US National Tennis Center.

She did at least provide a memorable reminder of her fighting qualities as she clawed her way back and pushed the match into a deciding tiebreak only to falter at the death with successive errors.

Two other former champions, Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro and Australia's Lleyton Hewitt, fared better, surviving tough battles to set up a second-round clash.

Del Potro, the winner in 2009, beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 7-6 (9-7) while Hewitt, who won in 2001, wore down American qualifier Brian Baker 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

In the women's draw, Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, the third seed, easily defeated Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor of Spain 6-0, 7-5 while China's Li Na just beat the first rain falls to dispose of Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-2.

Around four hours of play was lost on the day because of showers that sent players and spectators scampering for cover then continued to drizzle.

Another downpour in the afternoon prompted officials to postpone 28 matches until Thursday, including the second round match featuring Serena Williams, in order to complete the men's first round, which is played over three days at the US Open.


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