Murray battles warm-up pains and hostile crowd in fitful start to the year

Scot drops set against world No 199 in Brisbane despite Lendl assuming he would stroll to victory

Andy Murray narrowly avoided the wrath of coach Ivan Lendl after labouring to a 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 win over Australian qualifier John Millman in his opening match at the Brisbane International.

The US Open champion ran hot but mostly cold against the 199th-ranked player in a match of wildly fluctuating tennis at Pat Rafter Arena today.

The 2012 Olympic gold medallist said that Lendl, who is due to arrive in Brisbane today, had not even considered the possibility of the Scot (who had a first round bye) losing to Millman.

Before the second-round match, Lendl had sent a text message to the 25-year-old's hitting parter, Danny Vallverdu, asking what time Murray's quarter-final against Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin would be today.

Said the Scot: "December 22nd was the last day we trained in Miami before I went home. He messaged Danny and said, 'Can you send me the score and what time he's playing tomorrow before the match?' He was obviously expecting me to come through, but it was very nearly a different story.

"The depth of the game now is so, so strong," Murray added. "None of the matches are easy. It was a bit different back in Ivan's day where they could kind of cruise a little bit the first couple rounds."

Murray was horribly out of sorts in a tight second set, clutching at his back, thigh and shoulder. His class shone through but it was not one of his finest efforts.

"I had seen John's name before, but I hadn't seen him play," he said. "I think it's important when you don't know how someone plays to find out about their character a little bit. He's very consistent... he can play quite a long way behind the baseline and doesn't take too many risks. And then he was going for absolute bombs and making them."

Murray's five-set thriller against world No 1 Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of last year's Australian Open was a portent of the great achievements to come later in 2012. Despite his stuttering display against Millman that had a sold-out crowd roaring for the Australian, Murray said he was in good shape for his next assignment at Melbourne Park.

"It was great to play in an atmosphere like that for the first match of the year, to get back into the swing of playing in front of large and loud crowds," Murray said. "There is obviously a lot of that at the Australian Open. No matter how much you practice, you can't replicate those sorts of atmospheres. It's important for me to play in them, especially in the beginning of the year. I wasn't too disappointed with the way I played either, so it was a good first match for me."

Second-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic was eliminated 6-3, 6-4 in the biggest shock of the event by 21-year-old Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, nicknamed "Baby Federer" for the similarity of his technique to the Swiss. Tomorrow's other quarter-finals are Marcos Baghdatis against Gilles Simon, Alexandr Dolgopolov versus Kei Nishikori and Dimitrov against Jürgen Melzer.

Injury hits Watson's Melbourne preparations

Heather Watson, Britain's top-ranked female tennis player, has been forced to withdraw from next week's Hobart International because of a right elbow injury.

Watson, who said she still hopes to play at the Australian Open in Melbourne beginning on Monday week, suffered the injury during her loss to Kiki Bertens in the second round of the Auckland Classic in New Zealand on Wednesday.

The world No 49 Watson said on Twitter: "I injured my elbow yesterday in my singles match, unfortunately I have to withdraw from Hobart... doing everything I can to get healthy."

Serena Williams will play the world No 1, Victoria Azarenka, in the semi-final of the Brisbane International, after she beat her US compatriot Sloan Stephens in the quarter-finals. Azarenka had no trouble in a 6-1, 6-0 win over the Kazakh qualifier Ksenia Pervak before Williams beat Stephens 6-4, 6-3 in a night match.

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral