Andy Murray beats Jarkko Niemen to book place in third round

 

Andy Murray raced into the third round of the men's singles at the Olympic tennis tournament with a dominant 6-2 6-4 victory over Finland's Jarkko Nieminen under the roof on Centre Court.

The third seed, who will also play mixed doubles with Laura Robson here, looked in fine fettle and next faces a rematch with Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, who he beat in the third round of Wimbledon.

Murray and Nieminen know each other well having met four times previously, most recently in the second round of the French Open earlier this summer, while they also played at Wimbledon two years ago in a match watched by the Queen.

The Scot won all those meetings, although he had to struggle through a back spasm to come through their Roland Garros clash.

No such dramas were expected today, with Nieminen having won only one match since that encounter and Murray fit and in great form, and the home favourite raced out of the blocks.

Not helped by a foot fault, Nieminen dropped serve in the opening game, and Murray was firmly in control of the first set when he broke again to lead 4-1.

The third seed was hitting the ball extremely cleanly and, after saving two break points in fine style, he confidently served out the set.

Murray, who has made no secret of his desire to make amends for his first-round exit in Beijing, then made the best possible start to the second set with another break.

The were plenty of British flags in a big but not entirely full crowd and a decent level of noise, but Murray was simply having too easy a time of it to generate an electric atmosphere.

The 25-year-old was frustrated to miss two more chances to break in the seventh game but he was serving just as well as he had in his first-round win over Stanislas Wawrinka and Nieminen was not getting a look-in.

The Finn was left sprawled on the grass as Murray put away another winner to bring up his first match point, and Nieminen raised his fist in celebration when he saved it with an ace.

The 31-year-old ended up in the stands as he tried to prevent Murray serving out the match, but it was in vain as the British number one clinched victory with an ace after 61 minutes.

Murray was very pleased with today's display and felt he was in control throughout the match.

The Scot said: "I played well today. He didn't start the match that well. Then he definitely played better in the second set. I had the momentum for most of the match. I served well, especially in the second set, I didn't give him many opportunities.

"Once I got a break up in the second it was important to stay focused because I was getting a lot of free points from my serve and I needed to try to keep that up, and I did a good job."

If Murray is to go all the way, then he will have only one day off for the rest of the tournament and could well have to play singles and mixed doubles each day.

Tomorrow he will meet Baghdatis in the singles, and he is justifiably wary of the Cypriot after being pushed very hard at Wimbledon in a match that finished under the roof at 11.02pm, the latest in the history of the tournament.

Murray said: "I had a tough match with him at Wimbledon a few weeks ago. I certainly won't be taking anything for granted there. It's going to be very, very tough. He's a very, very good grass-court player. I'll need to play very well to win that."

PA

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