Britain win first tie with Murray off to a flying start

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The Independent Online

He will face many better opponents this year than Andrey Golubev, but Andy Murray got his season off to the perfect start with a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over the world No 133 in Britain's opening round-robin match in the Hopman Cup mixed team event in Perth yesterday.

The 22-year-old Scot went on to partner Laura Robson to a 6-3, 5-7, 12-10 mixed doubles win over Golubev and Yaroslava Shvedova, securing a 2-1 victory over their opponents from Kazakhstan. Shvedova had beaten Robson 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 in the opening singles contest.

Murray has changed his early-season plans in the run-up to the Australian Open, which starts in 13 days' time, by choosing to play in this exhibition event rather than the Qatar Open. The world No 4 looked in good shape, winning in just over an hour as he kept surprising Golubev with his speed around the court. Murray, who dropped just one point on his serve in the first set, broke serve four times to win with something to spare.

"I played really well," Murray said afterwards. "I felt like I moved well from the start of the match. It was a perfect start to the new year."

Robson started well against Shvedova, who at No 50 in the world rankings is 353 places higher than the 2008 junior Wimbledon champion, but tired towards the end. Nevertheless the 15-year-old recovered to partner Murray to a tight victory in the mixed doubles, the Britons saving a match point in the deciding champions tie-break.

Justine Henin, playing her first competitive match for 20 months, made a fine return in the Brisbane International, beating Nadia Petrova, the world No 17 and No 2 seed, 7-5, 7-5. Ana Ivanovic enjoyed her first win in almost five months by beating Jelena Dokic 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 at the same event.

Henin stunned tennis with her retirement in May 2008, but quickly found her stride. Petrova said she thought Henin played better than ever.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion closed out the match in style. A backhand down-the-line winner when she served at 4-5 was a reminder of one of the best strokes in women's tennis before a series of testing returns secured a break in the 11th game. "I have been waiting for this moment for so long," Henin said. "I feel better today than I did when I retired, both emotionally and mentally."