Murray was at his combative best last night as he held off world No72 Moutet to claim his 200th win in Grand Slams, putting him ninth in the all-time list.
Moutet pushed the Scot hard and had two set points in the second set before Murray rallied to clinch a 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 win in just under three hours.
“I’m at my highest ranking since I had the metal hip put in,” said the world No37, who now plays No19 seed Grigor Dimitrov.
“I’m happy with that. It’s not been an easy journey. I’d like to be ranked higher but this is the best I’ve played consistently since 2017. I’m happy to still be going, still progressing and I hope that I can keep pushing my ranking up.”
Three hours is on the short side for a Grand Slam match for Murray in 2023, having gone the distance twice in Australia in January. As the players shook hands, he told Moutet: “You’re an amazing player.” At 36, Murray felt he did well in difficult, humid conditions.
“Difficult match against a very skilful opponent, a very different game style to pretty much all of the guys on the tour now,” he said. “There were a lot of long points and tricky moments out there, a lot of stuff going on out there on the court. I did well to get it done in three sets.”
The three-time Grand Slam champion showed no signs of the abdominal strain that forced him out of Cincinnati less than two weeks ago.
The Grand Slam 200 Club
Roger Federer 369 wins
Novak Djokovic 354
Rafael Nadal 314
Jimmy Connors 233
Andre Agassi 224
Ivan Lendl 222
Roy Emerson 210
Pete Sampras 203
Andy Murray 200
Serving strongly, moving brilliantly and playing aggressive tennis, Murray cruised through the first set but had to dig deep in the second as Moutet hit back.
But once he had broken back for 5-5 in the second set — and once Moutet had smashed his racket — the match was effectively over.The only difficult moment came right at the end when VAR, being used in tennis for the first time at this year’s event, was called upon, and duly failed.
Serving for the match at 5-4, 15-30, Murray was awarded the point because Moutet had not got to the ball on the first bounce, but the Frenchman challenged it.
But while the replay was shown on the big screen inside the stadium, confirming it was a double bounce, the footage was not sent to the umpire.
Andy Murray with his 200th Major win and he's into the second round of the US Open 💪pic.twitter.com/bsVFlnbKMx
— Sky Sports Tennis (@SkySportsTennis) August 29, 2023
Since officials are not allowed to use simple TV replays, the umpire said: “Unfortunately, VAR is not working, call stands.” Murray served out for victory but was left perplexed.
“I don’t know exactly how it’s supposed to work and who’s supposed to make the decision on it, because it was quite clear from the second video that the ball had bounced twice,” said Murray. “We watched it about 10 times. It clearly is not the umpire that’s making that decision.
“It obviously didn’t go to plan in a pretty important moment of the match. It would be good if they could get that fixed.”