Murray returns to square one after serve misfires

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The Independent Online

As Murray packed his bags for Auckland, his final step en route to the Australian Open, after his defeat, 7-6, 4-6, 6-1, to the Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych, the top-seeded Hewitt, playing in his home town, was beaten by a German substitute, Philipp Kohlschreiber, 6-3, 0-6, 7-5. Murray, having dropped the first set in his opening match of the year, against Paolo Lorenzi, an Italian qualifier, was unable to dislodge the 24th-ranked Berdych in the third set yesterday.

Murray was left piecing together the positives. "Compared to my first match, it was a lot better performance," he said. "I was much better on the ground, I came to the net a little bit, and was moving well. I was disappointed I didn't serve as well as I can."

Hewitt was soon in trouble against the 86th-ranked Kohlschreiber, who won the opening three games, then took the first set after holding set points on Hewitt's serve at 5-2. The Australian won the second set after only 26 minutes, and broke the German as he served for the match at 5-4 in the final set. Hewitt gave away a double-fault on break point at 5-5 and Kohlschreiber served out for the win.

In another second-round match, Australia's Mark Philippoussis lost to Dominik Hrbaty, of Slovakia, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Murray's coach, Mark Petchey, has criticised the Lawn Tennis Association for spending £40m on a national tennis centre. Petchey, who was the LTA's manager of men's international training before leaving last year to coach Murray, said: "The centre won't be the reason Britain has top 100 players, because the kids will have to be produced elsewhere. If they are not being produced now, then you need to go and address that problem rather than go and build a national training centre when you've only got five good kids who are actually going to use it."

An LTA spokesman said: "The national tennis centre is vital in supporting and developing tomorrow's champions. The centre will ensure we are able to offer them the very best in facilities, sports services, coaching and medical support."

The world No 1 Roger Federer set up a semi-final against Germany's Tommy Haas after beating the Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, 6-4, 6-3, at the Qatar Open. Haas defeated Russia's Mikhail Youzhny with an identical 6-4, 6-3 score.

Martina Hingis advanced to the semi-finals of the WTA Tour event on the Gold Coast with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-0 win against the unseeded Nuria Llagostera Vives, of Spain.

* Andre Agassi, 35, has withdrawn from the Australian Open on 16 January because of an ankle injury.

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