No wonder Andy Murray loves Australia. The world No 6 has met Australian opponents 10 times in his career and has yet to be beaten. The latest player from Down Under to be swept aside by the Scottish tide was Marinko Matosevic, who lasted just an hour and 42 minutes here today in the second round of the Australian Open.
Murray, who will next face Portugal’s Joao Sousa on Friday, broke serve seven times in his 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 victory. Every department of his game looked in good order. Murray dictated play in most of the rallies, hit 21 winners and made only 12 unforced errors to Matosevic’s 49.
“I played a good match,” Murray said afterwards. “I felt like I struck the ball a bit better today than I did in my first round.”
The air temperature climbed 32C on the hottest day of the tournament so far. The match was played in the middle of the afternoon, with the sun burning down from a clear sky at the start. Murray was soon taking advantage of the ice towels, which he hung round his neck at changeovers.
Matosevic, however, was the man who felt the heat as Murray came flying out of the blocks. Racing into a 5-0 lead, the Scot won 21 of the first 24 points. The biggest cheer of the afternoon came when Matosevic finally got on the scoreboard in the sixth game, but Murray went on to serve out for the set in just 21 minutes.
A group of four young Australians with A N D Y written on their tee-shirts usually provide the cheerleading at Murray’s matches here, but on this occasion they were drowned out by a chorus of boos or support for Matosevic.
For the most part, however, Murray’s superiority kept the crowd in Margaret Court Arena relatively subdued. With 11 Australians through to the second round here – the most since 2003 - the Melbourne public had been getting used to better home performances than this.
When Murray went two breaks up in the second set the Scot seemed to be coasting, but Matosevic decided that it was now time for an all-or-nothing approach. Going for his shots, the world No 81 finally broke serve for the first time and then held to cut Murray’s lead to 4-3.
The comeback, however, was short-lived. Murray promptly won the next five games in a row before saving his seventh break for last, Matosevic putting a forehand long on the third match point.
“I definitely started quite quickly today,” Murray said afterwards. “I was timing the ball well on the return and serving well from the beginning of the match, and it helped a lot because obviously the crowd were behind him. I managed to take the crowd out of it a little bit by starting that quickly.
“He fought hard up until the end. Obviously after a tough start for him, he definitely hung in after I went a couple of breaks up in the second set. He came back, made it tight at the end of the second set. There were a lot of long, close games. Even in the third set, as well.”
Murray said he had enjoyed the conditions. “They change the way the court plays significantly,” he said. “The ball bounces a lot higher. Using variety, using higher balls, you get a lot of success with that. Whereas when it's very cold you don't get so much success with it. So when the temperature's like this, I quite like it.”
With several good young Australians breaking through, Murray said he did not expect his 100 per cent record against players from Down Under to last.
“There are obviously going to be a lot more challenging matches over the next few years when all the young guys keep improving and get better,” he said. “So I'll struggle to keep a perfect record against Aussies in the coming years, but I have played well against them in the past.”Reuse content