Andy Murray had to beat a lot more than Tomas Berdych to reach his fifth career Grand Slam final on Saturday at the U.S. Open. He had to beat the wind as well. He did just that, taking out Berdych 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7) to become the first man into this year's final.
It's unfortunate to say, but it was the wind, not the play, that seemed to be the biggest story of the day. The four-set match took the men four hours to play, and it felt like nearly half of that was from tosses on serves that players had to let fall back to the ground. At times the tosses would land behind the players or start flying away. It was comical in a sense, but not funny when considering the stakes at hand.
"That was some of the hardest conditions I've ever had to play in and I come from Scotland," Murray told Mary Joe Fernandez after the match. "So that's saying something."
The wind was so bad that in the first set it knocked Murray's hat right off his head during a rally, costing him a point in what turned out to be an eventual break of serve for Berdych. Later, Murray's chair on the sideline was blown over, spilling his equipment all over the court. The players themselves had a good laugh about it, but the wind was no laughing matter.
Frankly, it led to play that wasn't quite befitting of a semifinal at a Grand Slam. The players never really had a chance to get into their games, the wind was so tough. But both players had to play in it, so it's tough to call it unfair.
One of the differences was that Murray seemed to handle it better. Berdych has one of the highest ball tosses you'll see in tennis; obviously, that's not ideal in gusty conditions. He had a tougher time than Murray of getting his ball tosses in the right spot.
"I think that our sport deserves to have some rule if the conditions are like that," Berdych said after the match. "At least to think about."
Early in the match it seemed like the players might have been overthinking it a bit, and it was Murray who began to deal with it best, running away with the second and third sets before the tight fourth.
If they weren't so desperate to get the semifinals in on Saturday, the match might have been postponed. Standing still, the players' shirts were flapping in the wind like a flag atop a sailboat. But with the women's final already postponed to Sunday because of the inclement weather coming, there was a sense of need to try and get the match in and the second semifinal.
At the end of the day, though, it doesn't matter much. You can feel for Berdych as he came out on the losing end of a bad situation, but the match was still played -- and Murray was playing in the wind as well. The result was that Murray will fight for the U.S. Open crown for the second time in his career.
Hopefully the weather will be a bit better. The players deserve that as well as the fans.