U.S. Open 2013: Andy Murray stays hot, moves on

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NEW YORK — Defending champion Andy Murray staggered around the court between points on a humid day at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Once a point started, he sprinted down every ball, as usual. Murray needed a set to find his rhythm against 47th-ranked Florian Mayer, then rolled the rest of the way to a 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-2 victory Sunday in the third round of the U.S. Open.

It’s classic Murray to grimace in apparent pain after losing a point, then race across the court to hit a winner with no hint of discomfort. Even if his expressions didn’t show it, the third-seeded Scot is enjoying the role of reigning champ at Flushing Meadows.

It was here a year ago that he cured 76 years of tennis misery for Britain, its first men’s Grand Slam winner since 1936. Then back home for Wimbledon in July he ended its drought there, too, with the first title in 77 years.

“The expectations are higher, but there’s not as much pressure to win,” Murray said in an on-court interview. “I feel much more comfortable coming into these events than this time last year.”

He’ll next face 65th-ranked Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, who won a five-setter against No. 20-seeded Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 3-6, 6-1.

Fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych played his match on the Grandstand, the third-largest stadium at the U.S. Open. In a sport dominated by four players, Berdych is easily overlooked. But he is cruising so far at Flushing Meadows, where he reached the semifinals last year after beating Roger Federer.

The Czech routed No. 31-seeded Julien Benneteau 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 and has yet to drop a set at this year’s U.S. Open.

Berdych, who lost to Rafael Nadal in the 2010 Wimbledon final, will face ninth-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka in the round of 16.

Wawrinka beat Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (1), 7-6 (7).

Top-seeded Novak Djokovic is scheduled to open the night session against Joao Sousa. But the biggest show of the day came before that.

Defending women’s champ Serena Williams was taking on fellow American Sloane Stephens, a rematch craved by tennis fans ever since Stephens upset a hobbled Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals in January. The 20-year-old Stephens is seeded 15th.

Bob and Mike Bryan were down a set and a break against unseeded Canadians Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil in their third-round doubles match before rallying for a 6-7 (1), 7-5, 6-2 victory. The defending champs are trying to become the first men’s double team of the Open era, and the first since 1951, to win all four major tournaments in the same year.

They’ve already achieved a “Bryan Slam” with four straight titles starting with the 2012 U.S. Open.

Struggling with returning serve, the top-seeded Bryans switched sides after the opening set for the first time in about three years.

After going down a break at 3-4 in the second set, the American twins immediately broke back against the 40-year-old Nestor’s serve. They clinched the set by breaking his serve again, with Nestor double-faulting twice in the game, including on match point.

The Bryans broke his serve twice more in the third set to advance.

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