By Bill Scott –
NEW YORK — Andy Murray braved unpredictable winds to post a grueling 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (9-7) defeat of Tomas Berdych on Saturday, but will not know his finals opponent for another day as the U.S. Open was shut down by approaching severe weather.
Officials who knew that storms would set in during the evening, got a taste of what was to come in the morning as a thunderstorm delayed the start of the Murray match by more than an hour, with a tornado touching down in the nearby metro area.
As a result of a four-hour win, Murray is into his fifth career Grand Slam final. But the second semifinal between defending champion Novak Djokovic and Spain’s fourth seed David Ferrer was halted with Ferrer leading 5-2 and ready to serve for the opening set.
Officials abruptly forced 23,000 fans to leave Ashe Stadium, the only one at a Slam without a covered roof or plans to install one.
The Saturday night women’s final between Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams had been put back to Sunday hours earlier.
Controversy swirled around the decision not to play the Djokovic contest on the empty Armstrong court simultaneously with that of Murray.
Berdych, who upset Roger Federer to reach the semis, was annoyed by the way the affair was handled.
“Our sport deserves some rule that if conditions are like that you don’t play,” Berdych said. “We play a Grand Slam in a stadium missing the roof — it’s something which should be at least to think about.
“We are here in the States where they really love show. Actually, this is not about show. This is just about somehow to try to deal with the conditions and then trying to put ball over the net.”
Wind for the first semi blew a player chair onto the court at one point and flying paper was a constant distraction.
“It was brutal,” said Murray, who converted on seven of his 22 break chances and kept his unforced error count well down at 20. “You had to focus on every single point, be in position for every shot.
“The ball would stop, move the other way, chairs were flying onto the court. These were some of the worst conditions I’ve ever played in. I’m from Scotland so that’s saying quite a lot.”
Murray dropped the challenging first set after 67 minutes, but came back to win the next two and finished off the win as he came from 5-2 down in the fourth-set tiebreaker, saving a Berdych set point.
Olympic champion Murray will be playing his second New York final after losing in 2008 to Roger Federer in a match also played on a Monday due to rain.
“I feel more relaxed in New York,” said July’s Wimbledon finalist against Federer. “Providing they get the next match finished, there is not a lot of turnaround time until the final.
“I’ll have to be really prepared and to all the right stuff to be ready.
“I hope this can be my first time to win a major, I know how hard they are to win. In the conditions of today, you had to be in it from the first point to the last.”