Murray survives sluggish start

Andy Murray recovered from a dreadful start to beat the veteran Rainer Schttler 1-6, 6-0, 6-1 and progress to the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open yesterday.

After sailing through the first round on Tuesday, the British No 1 was awful in the first set as his German opponent took full advantage of his numerous errors. But with Schttler appearing to tire, Murray raised his game, albeit to no more than third gear, to see off the world No 99.

"I made too many mistakes in the first set," Murray said. "The most important thing was to hang in there... I changed my style of play in the second and third sets. I was coming to the net more and using the slice shots."

A sluggish Murray lost the opening six points of the match and then conceded the first break following a string of unforced errors.

The Scot, seeded third, was again taken to deuce in his next service game but finally prevailed before the German had two more break points in the sixth. He converted the second for a 5-1 lead after Murray fired a weak backhand into the net and then served out to love for the first set.

Schttler had conceded a single point on his own serve in the opening set, but Murray could take confidence from the fact that he recovered from an equally woeful opening to win in three sets on the only previous occasion the pair met, in Memphis in 2006.

He claimed his first break for 2-0 in the second set as Schttler started to slow up. That became a double break as Murray began to dominate. He served out with ease to claim the second set 6-0.

Schttler, 11 years older, attempted to rally at the start of the third set but a delicate forehand winner down the line at full stretch, which clinched the Briton's first service game, reflected his renewed confidence. So it was little surprise when Murray produced a fourth straight break of serve, later broke to love and served out to win 6-1.

The world No 11 will now play Thomas Johansson, the 2002 Australian Open champion, in the quarter-finals.

l Amlie Mauresmo continued her preparations for the Australian Open with a 6-3, 6-4 win over fellow Frenchwoman Nathalie Dechy to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Hardcourt Championships at Gold Coast yesterday. The former world No 1, who will meet Patty Schnyder, of Switzerland, in the next round, is playing in her first event since October after suffering a shoulder injury.

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