x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

The going gets rough for fall-guy Murray

Andy Murray is enjoying his new status as the world No 2. But that could not stop him from getting roughed up a little on the court or throwing a few verbal punches off it on Tuesday.

Andy Murray is enjoying his new status as the world No 2. But that could not stop him from getting roughed up a little on the court or throwing a few verbal punches off it on Tuesday. The Briton tumbled and sweated his way through a first-round victory against the 95th-ranked Ernests Gulbis of Latvia in a match where a ballboy took away part of his thunder in a tough 7-5, 6-3, 7-5 win at Flushing Meadow.

Before that, the Scot joined Andy Roddick in criticising the organisers who have warned against players providing "inside information" with their tweets on the social networking site Twitter. "You would seriously have to be a moron to send 'inside info' through a tweet," he tweeted. "It's lame the US Open is trying to regulate our tweeting." Murray may have punctured some misplaced aspirations to crack down on offenders but the Scot's progress on the court was jolted in the third set later when he made a mad dash to retrieve a half-volley and hit the hardcourt hard just after reaching the ball with a backhand.

"Just a few bruises," the 22-year-old said. "Maybe it will hurt in the morning for a little bit, but I don't think it did any damage." Murray's crash landing in the ninth game of the set came shortly after a similarly spectacular tumble by a ballboy, whose foot clipped an advertising awning as he chased a ball, sending him splattering into a photographers box. The boy sat out the next point but he managed to gather himself before coming back to a huge ovation from the crowd as the giant screen on the Arthur Ashe court flashed a replay of his fall.

"When the ball kid fell over, you wouldn't get that at any of the other slams where he's up on the big screen and the crowd get into it," Murray said. "You know, that was one of the loudest cheers of the evening."