New York - Defending champion Andy Murray raced into the US Open second round on Wednesday before hitting out at the late-night scheduling which he described as “not ideal”.
Third-seeded Murray, who snapped Britain's 76-year wait for a men's Grand Slam champion when he triumphed in New York last year, needed just 98 minutes to get past 33-year-old Frenchman Michael Llodra, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3.
But the match only got underway at 9:55pm - the third-latest ever start for a US Open night session - after a four-hour rain suspension earlier in the day caused havoc with the schedule.
As a result, Murray found himself playing his opener 48 hours after second seed, and leading title favorite, Rafael Nadal had completed his first round on Monday.
“I think playing at that time for your first round is not ideal,” said Murray, whose original start time of 7pm had been further compromised by Argentine sixth seed Juan Martin Del Potro needing over four hours to finish his opener on the same Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“Just because I won last year, it's nothing to do with that. It's just for the guys that have to play this evening, and you have guys that have two days off between matches.
“When the weather was like it was going to be, we were asked on Saturday: Would you like to play on Tuesday or Wednesday? We said, Tuesday. They then told us the next day, 'It's looking like it's going to be Wednesday.'
“OK, cool. It will be during the day on Wednesday. Yesterday (Wednesday) as we were leaving at 3:00 we were told it's looking like you're going to be playing in the evening. It just changes your preparation for the match.”
Murray, a dedicated fan of night sessions in New York where the atmosphere usually becomes more raucous as the consumption of alchohol increases, said he had no fear that he would end up playing his first round on Thursday.
“I thought we were going to get on this evening. I just thought maybe we would have been on another court,” he added.
“When the weather is like that, it's distressing for everyone, for the referees, the organizers, for the players. You just want to get on the court and play. Whether it's on Arthur Ashe or Court 15, it doesn't really matter.”
When he finally got on court Wednesday, he quickly made up for lost time.
The Wimbledon champion broke Llodra in the first and seventh games of the opening set before slipping 0-3 down in the second set against a man he had defeated in all three of their previous meetings.
But the 26-year-old stopped the rot to put together five games in a row on his way to securing the second set.
He was a break to the good for 2-1 against serve-and-volleyer Llodra in the decider and went to match point after getting the better of a rally which started with his left-handed opponent sending over a cunning under-armed serve.
Murray hit 34 winners against just five unforced errors while Llodra committed 29 unforced errors.
Murray, who has played in the finals of the last four Grand Slam tournaments in which he has competed, goes on to face Argentina's Leonardo Mayer for a place in the last 32.
Mayer is 81 in the world and reached the third round in New York last year.
“He's a very talented player. He's got big sort of long, looping strokes. I think he plays his best tennis on the hard courts. He's very tough,” said Murray.