Murray's fight and poise adds to the momentum

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The Independent Online

The 18-year-old beat the Frenchman Gregory Carraz 6-4, 7-5, progressing to the second round of the Campbell's Hall of Fame Championships here in an encounter in which he rarely seemed out of control. As he walked off court, the sometimes diffident teenager was clearly delighted with his victory.

"I was happy to have won," he said afterwards. "It was pretty difficult to play... The court was not very good and it was hard to get into a rhythm."

He added: "It's not difficult to get geed up for the ATP Tour. This was only my fourth or fifth tournament and it's still a very big challenge to play against those guys. [Carraz] has been as high as 54 in the world. It was always going to be a difficult match and I'm pleased to have played as well as I did."

In the preparation for this tournament, won last year by Greg Rusedski, Murray had talked of the huge expectations following his Wimbledon performance when he progressed to the third round. Such pressure was positive, he said, because he, too, has high hopes of himself. On this who-knows-how-important occasion, such self-devised psychology appeared to have paid off.

"I know everybody, or at least a lot of people, were expecting me to win but it's not as easy as that," he said. "This guy is a very good player. For me to win against him is still on of the biggest wins of my life... I just have to concentrate on playing one game at a time because I'm not used to playing at this level of consistency."

Despite his concerns about the court's uneven bounce on a damp day and an unhelpful breeze, as it was from the first point of the opening game - which he won - Murray served and played fluidly. In the first set he won more than 80 per cent of his first-serve points and, in contrast to the Frenchman, he rarely double-faulted.

On paper at least, the 29-year-old Carraz, who is ranked 87 places higher than Murray at No 126, should have been more than equal to the challenge, and during both sets there was one game in which he pushed the Scot hard and looked to break his serve. But on both occasions Murray dug in, clenched his fist and fought back to hold his serve, displaying a impressive focus and, on more than one occasion, beguiling passing shots with both forehand and backhand.

At several points of the game Murray appeared to be talking to himself, occasionally shouting in consternation and questioning several line calls with the umpire. It was also clear that throughout he was drawing encouragement and inspiration from his coach, Mark Petchey, who was sitting in the stands and urging on his young charge, particularly at moments of pressure.

Afterwards he said that he was more than aware of the importance of those points in the game. "You've got to recognise that it's a big point," he said. "I think that was one of the things I did well at Queen's and Wimbledon - I played the big points well. I played some really good shots and served well on the big points."

There were few variations yesterday on Murray's stock-in-trade baseline game that served him so well at Queen's and Wimbledon, when he was defeated in a five-set third-round match with the 2002 finalist David Nalbandian. While the tall Carraz looked to advance to the net whenever he could, Murray stuck to the back of the court, returning with precision and several times leaving his opponent helpless with a deft drop-shot.

Weather permitting, Murray is due to continue his Rhode Island campaign today, playing the winner of last night's scheduled match between the American James Blake, who has previously been ranked in the top 20, and the Frenchman, Anthony Dupuis.

Rusedski was scheduled to play his first-round match later last night against the Italian Uros Vico. It is possible he could meet Murray in the quarter-final, an encounter both might relish.

"I won this title when I was 19," Rusedski said earlier this week. "Andrew is only 18. It's an exciting time for him and its an exciting time for me. I'm coming to the end of my career and it's great to finally find someone you believe could be in the top 100, the top 50 possibly, and from there it's his choice whether he has the desire and drive to see if he can get further than that."

He added: "I think he is the best prospects of all the youngsters I have seen coming up, by far. He has a desire to want to do well and if he works hard he will do very well in this game."