Murray races through after sticky start

British No 1 makes returns to action for first time since Australia Open final

When Andy Murray took 32 minutes to win his first two games it seemed that the world No 4 might be in for a long opening day at the Barclays Dubai Championships here last night. To the Scot's relief, however, Russia's Igor Kunitsyn failed to build on his promising start and after another 69 minutes Murray had booked his place in the second round by winning 6-2, 6-3.

Murray, who now meets Andreas Seppi or Janko Tipsarevic, was playing his first match since losing to Roger Federer in the final of the Australian Open three weeks ago. Having spent 10 days resting after the year's first Grand Slam tournament, Murray says he has not come here with any great expectations.

Kunitsyn, the world No 111, failed to take two break points in the opening game, but that was nothing compared with what was to follow. The second featured 14 deuces and lasted nearly 25 minutes before Murray converted his ninth break point when Kunitsyn hit a forehand long.

Murray appeared to hurt his knee early in the game and frequently bent over in discomfort between points during it, but he soon started moving more freely and eventually took control. The Scot broke again at 5-2 to take the first set in 58 minutes.

Kunitsyn, who has slid down the rankings from a career-high position of No 35 last July after suffering shoulder problems, briefly raised hopes by breaking in the opening game of the second set, Murray serving a double-fault at 30-40. Murray broke back immediately, however, and did so again in the sixth game before serving out for victory.

Murray is seeded to meet Novak Djokovic in the final. It has been a quiet start to the year for the 22-year-old Serb, though the world No 2 is hoping to make a noise here this week. Djokovic has won 16 titles but has yet to make a successful defence of a crown. He hopes to do so here and got his campaign off to a decent start with a workmanlike first-round victory over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

Djokovic, who beat the 26-year-old Spaniard 6-4, 6-4, did not play a warm-up event before last month's Australian Open, where he was knocked out by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals, and reached the semi-finals on his only other tournament appearance this year, losing to Mikhail Youzhny in Rotterdam earlier this month.

Given that he finished the 2009 season exhausted after playing 97 matches, more than anyone else on the men's tour, it is no surprise that Djokovic wants to pace himself this time around and he is ready for a busy period. Having played indoors in Rotterdam, Djokovic has switched to outdoors here, will play on an indoor clay court in the Davis Cup the weekend after next and then returns to outdoor hard courts for the Masters Series events in Indian Wells and Miami in March.

Although Djokovic made a slow start, Garcia-Lopez rarely looked capable of troubling the Serb for long. The world No 47, who needed treatment on his left knee midway through the second set, is more at home on clay and has now lost all five matches he has played this year. Djokovic now plays his fellow countryman, Viktor Troicki.

Meanwhile, the Association of Tennis Professionals has announced a five-and-a-half-year sponsorship deal with Corona Extra, a Mexican beer, believed to be worth around $70m (about £45.2m). The men's tennis tour has been looking for a major sponsor since its deal with Mercedes-Benz ended two years ago.

*Ana Ivanovic has appointed a new coach. Heinz Gunthardt, who used to work with Steffi Graf, will start his new job next week.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Getty
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor