Murray grits through cramps to win at US Open
By RACHEL COHEN
NEW YORK (AP) -- Spinning in 70 mph second serves, grabbing at his hamstrings, Andy Murray gritted his way through cramps to win his first-round match at the U.S. Open.
The eighth-seeded Murray beat Robin Haase 6-3, 7-6 (6), 1-6, 7-5 on a steamy Monday. He started cramping in the back of his shoulder early in the third set, then it spread to his forearm.
Murray reached for his hamstring in the middle of one rally and still won the point. After hitting a winner, he'd twisted his body to awkwardly stretch his left side.
"I tried to hang around the best I could and managed to get through," the two-time major champion said during an on-court interview.
Murray was twice down a break in the fourth set, but Haase unraveled with a string of unforced errors. The 70th-ranked Haase wasted three break points in the final game, when he was also hurt by a missed call.
Up 5-3 earlier in the set, Haase double-faulted on break point to allow Murray to get back on serve. Murray then went up 6-5 when he took Haase's second serve high and whacked a forehand winner.
With Murray trying to serve out the match, Haase smacked a deep return on his second break point that would have put him in good position to win the game. The ball was called out, and after it was overturned on review, they had to replay the point. This time, Haase hit a volley into the net.
"Parts of that match weren't particularly pretty to watch," said Murray, who rallied from a two-set deficit to beat Haase in the second round of the 2011 U.S. Open.
Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic were to play under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium in the first night session of the year's last Grand Slam tournament.
Venus Williams, 34, beat 43-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the day's second match in Ashe. Second-ranked Simona Halep merited the honor of kicking off the tournament on center court. The stage proved imposing at first, and Halep needed to rally from a set down to beat a young American making her Grand Slam debut.
The Romanian won 6-7 (2), 6-1, 6-2 over 20-year-old Danielle Rose Collins. As a sophomore at Virginia, an unseeded Collins won the NCAA title to earn a wild card into the U.S. Open.
The French Open runner-up, Halep reached a career-high ranking of No. 2 this month. She has never advanced past the fourth round at the U.S. Open.
"My best moment of my life - I have to enjoy this," she said in an on-court interview after the match. "But it's not easy. There's a lot of pressure on me. Everyone is telling me that I have chances to win."
For Collins, she expected to return 24 hours later to a far smaller venue: a college classroom.
"Summer was too much fun," she said.
Hobbled by injuries during the season, Collins rolled through the NCAA tournament to become the Cavaliers' first women's singles champion in May.
She had never before even played a main draw match at a tour-level event. She started right at the top by playing in Ashe.
"It was amazing," Collins said. "I mean, I could get used to that."
Ranked 47th at the end of 2012, Halep's rapid rise booked her as the opening act in the cavernous confines of Arthur Ashe Stadium. Her reaction when she found out: "Wow."
"It's not easy to see that you play first match of tournament on center court," she said. "But, you know, I have experience now. I didn't manage very well the emotions, but it's good that I finished well."
Sixth-seeded Angelique Kerber also needed three sets to outlast qualifier Ksenia Pervak 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, coming back from down a break in the third set.
Fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska had no such trouble. She beat Sharon Fichman 6-1, 6-0 in 47 minutes, losing just three points in the second set.
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