Murray takes first hesitant steps and is quickly back into his stride

28th August 2007

Roberto Forzoni, the Italian psychologist with whom he has been working – in deep contemplation

On the court on which he has left the contents of his stomach and played some of the most inspired tennis of his life, Andy Murray was content just to strike the ball with a real purpose yesterday. Feeling his way back into the sporting mainstream, Murray won his first-round match at the US Open in a manner that will have reverberated through the locker-room like an electrical surge.

Murray’s 6-2, 6-3, 6-0 victory over Pablo Cuevas, a Uruguayan qualifier, was his first in a grand-slam tournament since he defeated Juan Ignacio Chela, of Argentina, in the third round of the Australian Open on January 20. That seems half a lifetime ago, during which time the 20-year-old from Dunblane has endured more misfortunes with his body, only for the setbacks to have hardened his mental resolution.

“It’s quite hard to describe my emotions because when you don’t play for such a long time at an acceptable level, it’s tough to stay positive,” Murray said. “That result means so much to me – more than a lot of results I had earlier in the year.”

You did not need a degree in sports psychology to appreciate what this small step meant for the British No 1. He sat for a good minute in his chair at the end of the match – which was watched by Roberto Forzoni, the Italian psychologist with whom he has been working – in deep contemplation. For him to emerge in the second round – in which he will play Jonas Björkman, the oldest man in the draw at 35 – is a considerable relief, as is the fact that the right wrist he flexed as he walked back from changeovers stayed rock-like in both defence and attack.