'Best I've felt' - Andy Murray talks up his US Open chances after second round win over Emilio Nava

Slowly but surely, Andy Murray is beginning to fancy his chances in New York. Physically, he is feeling better than he has in a long time and technically and tactically, he is getting back to where he wants to be.

He repelled the spirited challenge of 20-year-old Emilio Nava yesterday, sweating through an awkward opening set before winning 5-7, 6-3, 6-1, 6-0 and setting up an appointment with Matteo Berrettini in the third round of the US Open tomorrow.

“Physically, this is the best I’ve felt in the past few years,” Murray said. “My movement is by far the best it’s been in a long time and that’s always been a really important part of my game. And nowadays, especially, with a lot of the guys now hitting a huge ball, you need to be able to defend well – I feel like I’m doing that now. I’m getting closer to where I want to be and hopefully I can have a deep run here.”

That Nava, the world No.203 wild card from California, should have proved such a tough opponent ought to have been no surprise. Sport is in his genes: his father was a track athlete and his mother played tennis. They both represented Mexico at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. And Nava himself trains with Carlos Alcaraz at the Juan Carlos Ferrero academy in Spain and, as he puts it, they have “grown up together for the past few years; we’re super close”. Alcaraz is the trailblazer and Nava is scampering along behind him trying to replicate his every move.

Andy Murray is all smiles during his victory over Emilio Nava in the second round of the US Open. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)


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With that sort of opposition, Murray had to be on his game from the very first ball. Nava had beaten John Millman, an endurance player if ever there was one, over five sets on Monday. His confidence was high and he had shown he had the heart and the mental wherewithal to come through a four-hour battle. The problem was that Murray was not at his best: he was too passive; he was patrolling the ground far behind the baseline and he was waiting for Nava to make a mistake – and Nava was not obliging.

Ferrero, who dropped by for the first couple of sets, is not given to great displays of emotion but, even so, when Nava took the first set by dint of going after his shots, believing in himself and jumping on any opportunity that came his way, the smile that spread over Ferrero’s face stretched from ear to ear.

Murray, though, has been at this game a long time. As he became more aggressive, so Nava’s boundless enthusiasm began to wane. Youth and chutzpah could only take him so far against a three-time grand slam champion and former world No.1 and once the Scot had safely banked the second set, he never looked back. He only dropped 12 points on his first serve in three hours, he took charge from the baseline and, in between, he was turning on the style with deft touches and thumping passing shots.

As for Berrettini, Murray was more than optimistic. “I’m expecting it to be really difficult,” he admitted, “but if I play well and my return is on point then I’ve got a good chance.”


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