Murray digs deep to down Haase
Andy Murray of Britain returns a shot to Robin Haase of the Netherlands during their 2014 US Open men's singles match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center August 25, 2014 in New York - by Stan Honda
In steamy 30-degree heat on the Louis Armstrong Stadium, Murray defeated the 70th-ranked Dutchman 6-3, 7-6 (8/6), 1-6, 7-5.
The Scot, who hasn't reached a final since lifting the Wimbledon trophy in 2013, looked to be in trouble as he staggered through the third set, and twice rallied from a break down in the fourth to finally close it out after just over three hours.
The 27-year-old, who won the US Open in 2012, said he arrived at Flushing Meadows fitter than he has been for any Grand Slam of the year.
But the match against Haase offered more drama than Murray would have wished for, and he was at a loss to explain his physical struggles.
"These Slams are physically challenging, but I need to work out why it happened," Murray told an on court interviewer. "It shouldn’t have happened, regardless of the temperature.”
In the end, however, he was safely through, gaining the decisive break in the 11th game of the fourth set then saving three break points in the following game before holding for the match.
With two-time defending champion Serena Williams and five-time champion Roger Federer waiting in the wings, reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic and French Open winner Maria Sharapova headlined the opening night.
Top-seeded Djokovic, recently married and soon to be a father for the first time, is gunning for a fifth straight US Open finals appearance and a second title to add to the one he won in 2011.
He was set for a first career meeting with Diego Schwartzman, a 22-year-old from Argentina who is playing in his second career Grand Slam and the first tour-level hardcourt tournament of his career.
"He definitely has nothing to lose," Djokovic said. "I'm going to try to use my experience playing many matches on the center court and get a win."
Sharapova, who won her fifth career Grand Slam title at Roland Garros this year, returns to Flushing Meadows after missing last year's US Open with a shoulder injury.
She'll face fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko, a former top-10 player now languishing at 113th after a spate of injuries.
Australian Open winner Stan Wawrinka, seeded third, was also in action, taking on Czech Jiri Vesely.
- First match always tricky -
Second-seeded Simona Halep, runner-up to Sharapova at Roland Garros, shook off first-match jitters to defeat unranked US wildcard Danielle Collins 6-7 (2/7), 6-1, 6-2.
Fourth-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska powered past Canadian Sharon Fichman 6-1, 6-0, and sixth-seeded German Angelique Kerber defeated Russian qualifier Ksenia Pervak 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.
Despite the quick work, Radwanska was pleased to have her first match out of the way.
"First match is always tricky," said Radwanska, who allowed her 112th-ranked opponent just three points in the second set.
Radwanska has been to the quarter-finals of every Grand Slam but this one at least once, and she's determined to break through to the last eight this year.
"I will do everything to do that," she said. "I hope (to go) even deeper, but let's focus on that first and then we will see."
Halep, an eight-time winner on the WTA tour, admitted it was a bit intimidating to find herself first up for the tournament on the massive Arthur Ashe Stadium court.
"It's not easy to manage the situation, but I think after first set did I very well," the 22-year-old said. "I played better than first set. I started a little bit nervous, but it's normal."
Nick Kyrgios, who stunned Rafael Nadal in the fourth round at Wimbledon, ousted 21st-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 7-6 (7/1).
The fiery young Australian found himself in hot water on the way to victory however, and was one warning away from being kicked out over unsportsmanlike outbursts.