Andy Murray exits US Open amid lying row
Defending champion Rafael Nadal in ominous form as he progresses to third round
Andy Murray during his match against Fernando Verdasco in New York. Photograph: AP
The high temperatures and humidity in New York this week led tournament organisers to introduce a new rule permitting a 10-minute break between the third and fourth sets during men’s matches.
Players are not allowed to talk to their coaches, which is exactly what Murray said he saw Verdasco doing after finishing a cold shower.
The Scot was furious that it was he who alerted officials to the incident, telling umpire Nico Helwerth when he returned to the court: “I had to tell them because no-one knows the f***ing rules.”
Discussing the matter after Verdasco’s 7-5 2-6 6-4 6-4 victory, Murray said: “I went and told the supervisor. I said, ‘What are you guys doing? I mean, there’s clear rules here and you’re allowing this to take place. I don’t get it.‘
“Then he ran through, ‘Oh, you’re not allowed to speak.’ They obviously weren’t in there for long, but you’ve got to do better than that. This is one of the biggest events in the world.”
Verdasco flatly denied any such rule breach had taken place, claiming that while his coach was in the locker room, he spoke only to another player, Marcos Baghdatis, and the Cypriot’s coach.
Verdasco said: “Obviously if Andy says that, I don’t want to say that he lies, but I didn’t talk one word with my coach or any one member of my team. I know exactly the rule and I don’t want to be the one breaking it.”
With tournament organisers apparently unable to shed any light on what happened, it was a case of one man’s word against the other — and Murray was determined to make sure it was he who had the last one.
In a post on Instagram, Murray wrote: “I’m off to get a health check as apparently I’ve started imagining things,” followed by the hashtag #liarliarpantsonfire.
Nick Kyrgios, who has history with Verdasco, also weighed in on the debate, saying of the coaching accusations on Twitter: “Let’s be real, very believable because it is Verdasco lol.”
The defending champion took exactly two hours to clinch a 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium, with the only moment of alarm coming in the second set when he dropped serve to trail 4-2.
But Nadal broke straight back and a run of four games in a row gave him the second set, with the third largely one-way traffic.
Nadal has played both his matches so far at night, when there is some respite from the searingly-hot conditions, although the humidity means temperatures have still been pushing 30C.
The world number one expects the level of tennis on show to go up as the temperature goes down, saying: “The good thing is I think things are going to improve the next couple of days.
“We’ll be able to see, I think, better tennis than we saw the first couple of days of the US Open because playing under those conditions is, first thing, not healthy and, second thing, is not good for anybody: not good for the fans, not good for the players.
“The show is a little bit worse under these conditions.”
Nadal was the biggest critic of the shot clock that has been introduced to count down the 25 seconds permitted between points but so far believes it is being implemented well.
He was given one warning in the third set but remonstrated with the umpire, claiming he hesitated because Pospisil indicated he was not ready.
Expressing disappointment that his Canadian opponent did not back him up, Nadal said: “Being honest, my surprise is that Vasek didn’t came to the umpire and say, ‘that’s what happened’.”
Nadal could have a sterner test in the next round on Friday against big-hitting Russian Khachanov, who defeated Lorenzo Sonego 7-5 6-3 6-3.
The tournament lost one of its most talked-about names on Wednesday when 15th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was beaten 6-4 6-3 4-6 6-3 by in-form Daniil Medvedev, who won the Winston-Salem Open last weekend.
Greek Tsitsipas, with his flowing hair and one-handed backhand, has soared up the rankings this season and arrived in New York having beaten four successive top-10 players to reach the final of the Rogers Cup in Toronto.
But the 20-year-old could not summon the energy for another famous run, saying: “I kind of felt tired from the beginning of the tournament. I didn’t feel the same fire inside of me.
“I did win the first-round match, but I did feel a bit empty. It’s very annoying, because you really want to do well, but at the same time your body refuses to give 100 per cent.”
Former champion Stan Wawrinka reached the third round of a slam for the first time since before his knee surgery last summer, battling to a 7-6 (7/5) 4-6 6-3 7-5 victory over Ugo Humbert to set up a tasty third-round clash with Milos Raonic.
Wawrinka said: “My level is there. I’m playing really good tennis. I’m 33 years old, first time after big surgery that I’m pushing myself that much, but in general I think I did enough hard work to know and have confidence in my fitness.”
Raonic defeated Gilles Simon in straight sets while there were also victories for third seed Juan Martin del Potro — who plays Murray’s conqueror Verdasco — Kevin Anderson, Dominic Thiem, John Isner and Denis Shapovalov, who overcame Andreas Seppi in five sets.