NEW YORK — Defending champion Andy Murray began his first-round match Wednesday at 9:55 p.m. ET, the third-latest night-session start in U.S. Open history. Though Murray rolled past Michael Llodra 6-2, 6-4, 6-3, the Scot made it clear that he was disappointed to have to open at night on Day 3.
“I think playing at that time for your first round is not ideal,” Murray said.
The men’s first round is played over three days. As USA Today reported, the USTA had planned to schedule Murray for Wednesday’s day session and put Rafael Nadal’s second-round match at night. But the match that would determine Nadal’s opponent took two days because of rain, and organizers didn’t want the winner, Rogelio Dutra-Silva, to have to play three days in a row. Instead, the Nadal/Dutra-Silva match was slotted for Thursday.
A lengthy rain delay on Wednesday that pushed the day session deep into the night exacerbated Murray’s predicament, preventing him from taking to Arthur Ashe Stadium at his scheduled time of 7 p.m.
Murray dismissed any implication that he was upset because the scheduling could be interpreted as a slight to his status as the defending champion.
“It’s not whether it’s me, it’s anyone,” he said. “Just because I won last year, it’s nothing to do with that. It’s just more for the guys that have to play this evening, and you have guys that have two days off between matches. When the weather was like it was going to be, we were told on Saturday, ‘Would you like to play on Tuesday or Wednesday?’ We said, ‘Tuesday.’
“They then told us the next day, ‘It’s looking like it’s going to be Wednesday.’ OK, cool. It will be during the day on Wednesday. Yesterday, as we were leaving at 3, we were told, ‘It’s looking like you’re going to be playing in the evening.’ Then we had to come back last night to practice under the lights, and it just changes your preparation for the match.”
Murray will face No. 81 Leonardo Mayer of Argentina in the second round on Friday.