US Open Men’s Day 2 Recap: Murray Never Gives Up, Medvedev in Great Shape

Andy Murray 2020 US Open Day 2

One man stole the show on Day 2 of the 2020 US Open, completing an improbable comeback in almost five hours. In other matches, two seeds (Guido Pella and Nikoloz Basilashvili) dropped out of the tournament, although they weren’t really that much of favorites to begin with. Top seeds Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev advanced to the second round without much trouble.

US Open Men’s Day 2 Recap

Pleasant surprises and comfortable victories

Andrey Kuznetsov was out of the game for 31 months, before coming back for Prague Challenger in the middle of August. His loss to Tallon Griekspoor now looks much better in the context of the Dutchman’s two excellent weeks there. Still, the expectations weren’t high for the Russian coming into this week. The former world No.45 managed to upset Sam Querrey in straights, 6-4 7-6 6-2. The Russian had a lot to say from the ground and even outserved the tall American, hitting 18 aces and saving all three break points faced. Certainly, a great sign going forward into his comeback.

Roberto Bautista Agut avoided what appeared to be a very tricky first-round match against Tennys Sandgren. To what does he owe this victory? Mostly to his performance under pressure as the Spaniard saved 17 out of 19 break points, winning a total of six games where his opponent had a chance to win on return.

Daniel Evans was pretty quick in his dismissal of talented 19-year-old Thiago Seyboth Wild. Besides the third set that went into a tiebreak, Evans never allowed the Brazilian to settle down, using a variety of paces and spins to dictate the rallies. The Brit saved both break points faced and was in full control on the way to a 6-2 6-1 7-6 victory.

Marcel Granollers decided not to take a spot in the main draw to focus on doubles, so Ernesto Escobedo got a last-minute chance to play. The American took on Kamil Majchrzak. Majchrzak was originally supposed to face Benoit Paire, before the Frenchman tested positive for COVID-19. Majchrzak was the better player throughout the first set but allowed his opponent a bit too much space in the tie-break. Escobedo then rode on that victory and never took his foot off the gas to take the win 7-6 6-2 6-3. It was the American’s first Grand Slam victory since the 2017 Australian Open.

Daniil Medvedev¬†once again demonstrated how much he enjoys the conditions in New York. Last year’s runner-up was the same impenetrable wall that he’s gotten us used to in a straightforward win against Federico Delbonis. Medvedev saved two break points in one game and was otherwise untested on serve in a 6-1 6-2 6-4 win that didn’t even take two hours.

Flops and those who barely pulled it off

A pretty quick outside court sure seemed like the perfect venue for 38-year-old Feliciano Lopez to defeat Roberto Carballes Baena. Lopez’s chance was to stay on the attack and don’t get dragged into too many baseline rallies. That didn’t pan out at all as the veteran’s ground game was non-existent in a 6-3 6-7 4-6 3-6 loss. Lopez committed 55 groundstroke unforced errors compared to his opponents tally of 21.

It wasn’t a good day at the office for Felix Auger-Aliassime, who managed to break Thiago Monteiro’s serve only once in 3 hours and 56 minutes. While ultimately coming out on top in four sets, the Canadian’s fate was in Monteiro’s hands. Lucky for him, the Brazilian missed a rather easy smash to make it two sets all. Auger-Aliassime will need to step up his game if he’s thinking of making it deep in this event.

Another player who has to be happy to survive is the 2014 champion Marin Cilic. The Croat was down two sets to love and 3-5 in the third before somehow regaining control. Cilic stormed back to win that set 7-5 and never allowed Dennis Kudla a single break point opportunity again. Still, it was not a display that will earn Cilic a deep run here.

Tommy Paul still cannot find his game from before the pandemic. The American put up an errorfest in a quick 4-6 3-6 1-6 loss to Grigor Dimitrov. Paul hit just four winners from the ground, while making 33 unforced errors off both wings. Often named as one of the possible first-round blockbusters, the whole affair lasted just under two hours.

Match of the day

There was a fair share of great matches on day two but let’s be honest: Andy Murray and Yoshihito Nishioka¬†blew away any possible competition with the first match on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Down two sets to love and a break down in the third, Murray was struggling to push through Nishioka’s defense. The Japanese was like a wall and despite losing the break advantage, he kept forcing Murray to dig deep.

The three-time Grand Slam champion found his best on pivotal points. At one point he saved ten break points in a row, including a match point down 5-6 in the 4th. Ultimately, he got down a break in the fifth set, but we’ve seen again that with Murray, it’s not over till he says it’s over. After 4 hours and 38 minutes, Nishioka couldn’t put a backhand smash back inside the court and Murray came out the victor 4-6 4-6 7-6 7-6 6-4. It was Murray’s first Grand Slam singles match since undergoing hip resurfacing surgery. The Brit won 178 points to Nishioka’s 176.

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