Andy Murray powers into third round of Australian Open

 

Andy Murray saw off the plucky challenge of Edouard Roger-Vasselin to move into the third round of the Australian Open today.

Having looked totally overwhelmed by the occasion early on, Frenchman Roger-Vasselin gradually warmed to the task and gave Murray a few problems before the world number four prevailed 6-1 6-4 6-4 on his favoured Hisense Arena.

The win maintained Murray's remarkable domination of French players - since losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Melbourne four years ago, he has now won 37 of 38 matches against competitors from across the channel.

He will get the opportunity to extend that record against Michael Llodra in the next round while Gael Monfils and Tsonga are his scheduled opponents in round four and the quarter-finals respectively.

It is expected all three will pose more problems than Roger-Vasselin, who despite some brave resistance in sets two and three never seriously threatened an upset.

The opening set was particularly one sided with the world number 101 looking like a rabbit trapped in the headlights.

Murray took full advantage, claiming two breaks to cruise into a 4-0 lead with maximum efficiency.

His opponent finally got on the board in the sixth game but Murray duly closed out the set in just 23 minutes.

Murray wasted four opportunities to claim a break in the first game of the second - three of them due to backhand errors - as Roger-Vasselin held on to his serve for just the second time in the match.

But after holding in rapid time, the Scot did find a way through, breaking to 15 thanks to a winning cross-court forehand to move 2-1 up.

Although Murray remained in complete control, he was struggling with his break point conversion rate and three chances to move 4-1 ahead came and went.

Another break would, arguably, have been harsh on Roger-Vasselin who would have won the fifth game earlier but for a challenge from Murray which proved a chipped return, which had been left by the Frenchman, had clipped the outside edge of the line.

Roger-Vasselin, whose father Christophe reached the French Open semi-finals in 1983, was finally beginning to hold his own and he remained in touch to make Murray serve for the set at 5-4.

And he made hard work of it, being pegged back to 30-30 before a poor backhand from his opponent and an unreturnable Murray serve handed the fourth seed a two-set lead.

The marked improvement in Roger-Vasselin's game continued into the third set and after holding, the Frenchman set up his first break point which Murray saved with a booming ace out wide, a shot which prompted a loud "come on" from the Scot.

Murray's fifth ace of the game dragged him level at 1-1 but the 28-year-old from Gennevilliers kept his nose in front with some more enterprising play.

It remained on serve until the seventh game of the set when, at 30-40, Murray lashed a first serve from Roger-Vasselin back up the line to claim the break.

There was to be no let-up from Murray and he kept his cool to finish the job and move through to the last 32.

PA

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