ANDY MURRAY felt he had taken a step forward as he dispatched US Open second-round opponent Ivan Dodig with the minimum of fuss under the lights at Flushing Meadows.
• Murray cruised to a straight sets 6-2 6-1 6-3 victory over the Croatian
• The Scot will face either Feliciano Lopez or Pablo Andujar in the third round
The Olympic gold medal winner had been a little off colour in his first round match against Alex Bogomolov even though the scoreline was comfortable, and this was certainly an improvement.
Murray said: “It was better than the first round, that’s for sure. It was pretty comfortable conditions out there today. There wasn’t really any wind, it was fairly cool as well. That helped.
“I moved better than I did in the first match and served better, and I was able to dictate more of the points because of that. I was much happier with the way I played.”
Murray was on the offensive from the start, breaking the Dodig serve for the first time in the third game and then again in the seventh with a forehand pass.
The Croatian is ranked only 118th in the world but has had difficulties with a back problem this year having climbed to just outside the top 30 last season and beaten Rafael Nadal.
He likes the big stage just like Murray and has troubled players with his attacking tactics, but the Scot was ready and continued to pick off his opponent.
The second set was virtually one-way traffic as Murray broke three times, with Dodig not able to match the consistency or intensity of his opponent.
The third set was the tightest and Dodig had his chance to retrieve an early break in the seventh game, but both times his forehand let him down and Murray wasted no time wrapping up victory in an hour and 51 minutes.
The 25-year-old was pleased his homework had paid off, saying: “I watched a few clips of him playing the last couple of days. I knew he liked to come forward a lot.
“When he’s up there, he likes to hit drop volleys as well.
“When I saw him coming into the net, I tried to move forward in the court and managed to chase down a few of the drop volleys. When you’re expecting something, it makes it much easier to play against.
“When he first came on the tour, not many guys will have seen him. When someone serve-volleys and comes into the net a lot, it’s tough nowadays, you don’t see it that often.”
Murray set his sights on playing night matches on Arthur Ashe Stadium after watching Justine Henin beat Kim Clijsters in the final in 2003 when he was 16, and it is an environment in which he thrives.
“I always wanted to play the night matches at the US Open,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed them. I’ve had some good wins against tough players.
“The conditions are nice. It’s a good atmosphere to play in. There’s a good energy on the court, that’s why I’ve played well.”