LONDON — The clang of the advertising sign must have served as a wake-up call for a frustrated Andy Murray.
The U.S. Open champion, playing at home in Britain for the first time since winning his first major title two months ago, wasted 10 break points before finally finding his game and beating Tomas Berdych 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 Monday in the opening match of the ATP finals.
Murray missed all seven of his break chances in the first set, and then wasted three more in the fourth game of the second set. After the third, he whacked the ball in anguish, but even that failed to make it to the other side of the court. Instead, it clanged off the sponsor sign hanging on the net.
“He served very well on a lot of the break points, especially in the first set. He started to miss a few more first serves (in the) second and third sets when I had my chances,” Murray said. “That sort of helped me get into the point and find a way of being aggressive, using some variety, whereas some of the time in the first set he just completely overpowered me.”
When Berdych put a forehand wide, Murray finally earned the break he needed to take the second set when his Czech opponent’s forehand sailed long, making it 3-1.
“Unfortunately there was just small details that just decided today,” said Berdych, who had wasted three break points in the previous game.
In the third set, Murray didn’t waste his only opportunity. He converted the one break point he earned to take a 2-1 lead, and then lost only three points on his serve the rest of the way.
Murray was playing in Britain for the first time since ending the country’s 76-year wait for a men’s Grand Slam champion.
Although he reached the Wimbledon final and won the gold medal at the London Olympics, no British man had won a major tennis title since Fred Perry in 1936. Murray changed that in New York, and the crowd cheered loudly when he was introduced. The noise at the O2 Arena, however, died down once the match got going.
“I wasn’t thinking about that when I went out to play the match,” Murray said of his U.S. Open title. “But the noise and the atmosphere at the beginning of the match was great.”
Later Monday, top-ranked Novak Djokovic was to face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the other Group A match at the season-ending tournament for the top eight players in the world.
Group B, which includes six-time champion Roger Federer, will play Tuesday.
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