Murray shrugs off laboured opener

 

Andy Murray's ring-rustiness was clear as he laboured to a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Mikhail Kukushkin in his first match of the year yesterday, but the world No 4 admitted afterwards: "I'm hoping I'm not going to play my best tennis this week."

Murray, who will aim to peak at the Australian Open beginning in 12 days' time, was particularly sluggish at the start of his opening match at the Brisbane International. He was broken in his first two service games, trailed 3-0 and appeared to be suffering from a variety of aches and pains. Nevertheless, the Scot was playing much better by the end, while Kukushkin, a 24-year-old from Kazakhstan ranked No 91, was unable to sustain his flying start.

"He started very quickly and I was half a step slow," Murray admitted afterwards. "I wasn't getting to the balls like I would have liked to, but I managed to turn it round well. I started to play better at the end of the second set. I was getting into more long rallies and exchanges and by the third set he was starting to make more mistakes."

As for his physical state, Murray admitted his body had felt sore. "It takes time getting used to playing competitive tennis again," he said. "I've had a few little niggles the last couple of weeks that will be gone by the Australian Open. I just need to play through them just now and hopefully feel better. It's just from the work you do in the off-season. You put your body through quite a pounding."

Murray, who plays Luxembourg's Gilles Muller in the second round today, is the only top 10 player competing in Brisbane. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are playing in the Qatar Open in Doha, while Novak Djokovic will not play before heading for Melbourne. The only event in which the world No 1 appeared was last week's exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi, where he defeated Federer and David Ferrer.

As for Murray, the Scot has changed his preparations despite having reached the Australian Open final for the last two years after playing in the Hopman Cup team event in Perth. After Brisbane he will link up with his new coach, Ivan Lendl, in Melbourne next week.

"If I had lost today it probably wouldn't have been ideal, but you can still play Kooyong or Sydney – there are all sorts of different ways of preparing," Murray said. "I'm hoping I'm not going to play my best tennis this week. That wasn't the plan. But I would like to get through matches like today and play my way into the tournament. Hopefully by the end of the week I will start playing well."

Murray's mother, Judy, is in Auckland in her capacity as Britain's new Fed Cup captain. She has named Elena Baltacha, Anne Keothavong, Heather Watson and Laura Robson in her team for the Europe Africa Zone Group One matches in Israel from 1-4 February.

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
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.

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?