Murray hurries to noisy victory

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The Independent Online

With three planes to catch yesterday Andy Murray was in no mood to be held up even by a decisive rubber in a Davis Cup relegation play-off. The 19-year-old Scot duly disposed of Sergei Stakhovsky in three heated sets to secure victory for Britain against Ukraine and then headed for the airport to begin his journey via Budapest and Frankfurt to Thailand, where he is playing in this week's Bangkok Open.

Murray had been hoping to set out on Saturday night, but defeat alongside Jamie Delgado to Stakhovsky and Orest Tereshchuk in the doubles meant a return to the Odessa Lawn Tennis Club for yesterday's reverse singles.

Stakhovsky, who had claimed on Saturday that Murray owed some of his career progress to the support of his powerful national federation, had been getting under the skin of the British team all weekend and the world No 16 was determined to put the world No 188 in his place.

Murray's 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 victory was punctuated by scowls and shouts from both sides of the net and the Scot became increasingly agitated as the match went on. When he played poorly he launched into tirades of self-condemnation and when he won key points he celebrated noisily.

When the umpire refused to overturn one line call he screamed out: "No way, man!" That led to an official warning for unsportsmanlike behaviour and the umpire told John Lloyd, enjoying a winning debut as British captain, that his man needed to calm down.

Another outburst followed, however, as Murray, preparing to serve, shouted at Stakhovsky: "Frigging server's speed!" Murray explained later: "You're supposed to play at the server's speed. Not once did I hold him up during the whole match. It's a little bit annoying when you're stepping up to serve and he's banging his shoes and sticking his hand up. He did it seven or eight times during the match." With only a hint of tongue in cheek, Murray added: "I wanted to get off the court. I have a flight to catch to Bangkok so I didn't want to hang around."

Stakhovsky, who was angered at one stage by noise from the small group of British supporters, insisted there was no animosity between the two players but said he had felt tired after his three matches. "After you've been out on court for nine hours over three days you need some time," he said in explanation of his lack of urgency between points.

Despite the acrimony it was a convincing victory for Murray - he described it as "pretty comfortable" - over an opponent who had failed to convert a match point against Greg Rusedski in a marathon five-set match on Friday. Murray played nearly all the big points well, saving eight break points and dropping serve only once.

Stakhovsky, who lost to Murray in the 2004 US Open junior final, made too many errors at key moments, a point Murray was happy to underline. "When it was important, against both me and Greg, he was the one making the mistakes," he said. "If he wants to get better that's what he needs to cut out."

Not to be outdone, Stakhovsky said: "The other top-20 players I've played put you under pressure and make you play their game. They put you under such pressure that you need to play incredible shots to beat them. With Andy it's completely different. He lets you play whatever you want. It was me who was either winning the points or making the mistakes. That's his game and it's what he'd good at."

Murray's only concern was a chest injury which gave him shooting pains every time he breathed and left him clutching an ice pack under his shirt after the match. He will hope to recover in time for his first-round match in Bangkok against Tim Henman, the third time the Britons have been drawn against each other in the last two months.

Sergei Bubka, watched by his pole-vaulting father of the same name, beat Jamie Baker 6-3, 7-6 in the final, dead rubber to make the match score 3-2. The victory keeps Britain in Group One of the Europe-Africa zone next year. They will learn their next opponents on Thursday.

Saturday: Doubles S Stakhovsky & O Tereshchuk (Ukr) bt A Murray & J Delgado (GB) 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

Yesterday: Murray bt Stakhovsky 6-3, 6-2, 7-5; S Bubka (Ukr) bt J Baker (GB) 6-3, 7-6.