Murray counting on home support

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The Independent Online

Andy Murray gave the O2 Arena a big thumbs up after opening his Barclays ATP World Tour Finals campaign with an impressive victory over US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro.

The prestigious end-of-season tournament, where the best eight men of the year compete for a potential US dollars 1.63million jackpot in a round-robin event, is being held in London for the first time after four years in Shanghai.

With a capacity of 17,500, the venue is substantially bigger than Wimbledon's Centre Court and the British number one hailed the home support after battling to a 6-3 3-6 6-2 victory in the opening singles match to put himself at the top of Group A.

"It was great," said the 22-year-old. "It's different. You can't see the crowd when you're on the court, it's so dark. But you obviously hear them.

"When I got close to winning at the end of the match, the atmosphere was excellent. That's going a make a big difference going into the next couple of matches."

Del Potro has won only two matches since his New York triumph - he, like Murray, has been hampered by a wrist injury - and his inconsistency was a feature of the match.

Murray raced into a 5-0 lead but the Argentinian hit back strongly and the world number four frequently found himself chasing down Del Potro's trademark huge groundstrokes.

The 21-year-old appeared to have the momentum going into the decider but a sloppy game allowed Murray to take an early advantage and he sealed victory with another break, capitalising on successive double faults before powering a backhand winner on match point.

Murray continued: "It was a really good start. Obviously I'm happy I managed to come back in the third because he was playing well."

Del Potro knows he now faces an uphill struggle to reach the semi-finals but he can see positive signs.

"I feel good," he said. "I'm starting to play better. Maybe I get the confidence again to finish a good tournament here. But I have very good opponents in front of me."

The other match in Group A was between Roger Federer and Fernando Verdasco and it was the world number one who prevailed 4-6 7-5 6-1 but only after being pushed to the limit in the opening two sets.

Federer, who will face Murray tomorrow, admitted he had had something of an escape, saying: "The whole first set I was struggling to really put normal returns into play.

"My first break points (were) set points and it was a crucial moment for me because I knew the longer the match went, the more my belief was going up and his was going down."

World number two Rafael Nadal begins his campaign this afternoon against Robin Soderling, who became the first man to beat the Spaniard at the French Open this year, while the late match in Group B is between defending champion Novak Djokovic and Russia's Nikolay Davydenko.