US Open: Andy Murray ready for ‘weird’ experience, Johanna Konta excited for Heather Watson match

Andy Murray lifts the US Open trophy in 2012
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 31 August – 13 September
Coverage: Selected radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 Live and the BBC Sport website, plus daily reports and analysis

Andy Murray is expecting a “weird” experience when he competes at this week’s behind-closed-doors US Open.

The first Grand Slam since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic is under way inside a safety bubble in New York.

“Mentally it’s going to be difficult for the players,” said Murray, who opens against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka on Tuesday (17:00 BST).

British number one Johanna Konta faces compatriot Heather Watson about 18:00, with Dan Evans on court straight after.

Evans, the leading British male and the 23rd seed, takes on Brazilian youngster Thiago Seyboth Wild, who is playing in his first Grand Slam main-draw match.

American third seed Serena Williams starts her bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title against compatriot Kristie Ahn on Arthur Ashe Stadium after Murray’s match, while Russian third seed Daniil Medvedev – last year’s beaten men’s finalist – opens against Argentine Federico Delbonis.

Andy Murray (GB) v Yoshihito Nishioka (Jpn)
Kristie Ahn (US) v Serena Williams (US) [3]
Not before 00:00 BST:
Karolina Muchova (Cze) [20] v Venus Williams (US)
Federico Delbonis (Arg) v Daniil Medvedev (Rus) [3]

Murray not fazed by a ‘different’ Ashe

Former world number one Murray, 33, is playing his first singles match at a major since the 2019 Australian Open, where he feared he might have to retire because of a hip injury.

The Scot, who had a hip resurfacing operation in January 2019, reached the last 16 at the Western and Southern Open last week and he is confident his body can withstand the pressures of a major.

“The day off [in between matches] helps for sure,” the 2012 US Open champion said.

“I think it will adjust to what it is required to do. It might just take a bit of time because it has not done it for a while.”

On the lack of fans at Flushing Meadows, he added: “The level of tennis is what’s important. I play my first match on Arthur Ashe where I have experienced some of the best atmospheres I’ve ever had in tennis.

“To go out there in such a huge stadium and have literally no-one in the stands is going to be weird. I know that’s going to be the case, so at least I can prepare for it mentally.

“It’s different, but I’m just looking forward to getting to compete in a Slam again.”

Friendship goes to one side for Konta and Watson

Johanna Konta and Heather Watson playing for Great Britain in the Fed Cup

Konta and Watson are team-mates for the British Fed Cup team, but will find themselves on opposite sides of the court for the third time in a top-level match when they meet at Flushing Meadows.

World number 13 Konta is considered the favourite based on ranking and pedigree, coming into the US Open on the back of a run to the Western and Southern Open semi-finals last week.

Watson, ranked 54th, lost in the first round at the same tournament but won a WTA title in Acapulco earlier this year and was unbeaten in the singles at last month’s Battle of the Brits exhibition event.

Konta, 29, says Watson is one of the British players she is closest to, but did not feel any extra emotion about being drawn against the 28-year-old.

“Regardless of who I am drawn against, it will be a tough match,” said Konta, who reached the US Open quarter-finals last year.

“Obviously, I knew there would be added interest from home and it makes it more exciting for people at home, which is nice and gets people more into our sport.

“I’m looking forward to it, it will be a tough match for me and she is a very good player who has won a title this year.”

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