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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
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.

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments