Facing a leftie is no new challenge for the Brit, who grew up playing his brother Jamie and as such has an inside track with coping with them better than most, but trails in their head to head 0-1. They met at the Madrid Masters in 2011, in a tournament until recently (on clay at least), Murray had not really enjoyed as much success.
However, on hard courts, in an environment upon which he thrives, with the vibrancy of New York, we can but hope that the night match conditions will suit him more, as he attempts to reach the fourth round.
Murray has not made it easy on himself do far, dropping a set to Nick Kyrgios for the first time, and having to come from two sets down against Adrian Mannarino as well as struggling with a cold.
Bellucci has been putting in the time on the US hard courts, advancing in the doubles as well as gradually creeping back up the rankings, having started the year just outside the Top 60, with his progress during the summer on the hard courts probably best described as ‘slow and steady’.
Obviously he is far happier on the clay, but he enjoys the slightly livelier conditions that New York afford him, but Murray believes his formative years of playing his leftie brother has stood him in good stead.
“For me it’s almost more natural to play against a left-hander because that was what I learnt to play against when I was a kid. My first five, six years of tennis were playing against a left-hander.
“I expect a tough match,” Murray continued. “He’s played well this year. He has a good serve. He plays predominantly from the back of the court, but he’s an aggressive player. He likes to try and dictate the points from the back.”
Unlike Murray, Bellucci has managed to sail through his first two rounds without dropping a set, but to his credit rather than wringing his hands in unproductive dismay around having to come back from two sets down, Murray felt that he showed he had what it takes for survival of the fittest.
“I’m proud of the way I fought. It was not an easy match to come through at all. [Mannarino] was making it extremely difficult for me, as well. Thought he played some really, really good tennis.
“I was happy, very happy with the way I fought through that, you know, finished the match stronger than him.”
Bellucci may well feel more at home in the heat and humidity that will still be around in the evening, but if Murray feels he is over the cold that also afflicted older brother Jamie, still progressing in the men’s doubles, then we expect him to be extending his hotel reservations for the second week of the US Open.
Murray and Bellucci are scheduled on Arthur Ashe Stadium, not before 8:30pm (1:30am BST, Sunday).
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