Winning start for Andy Murray at Australian Open

 

Andy Murray overcame a first-set scare to see off Ryan Harrison at the Australian Open today - and then revealed his first-round performance had delighted new coach Ivan Lendl.

Murray looked in danger of adding to the misery surrounding British tennis - all five of his compatriots in the main draws made opening-day exits yesterday - when he trailed early on, but the hard-hitting American ran out of steam in the searing heat and the Scot capitalised to secure a 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-2 win in three hours and 12 minutes.

It was the first time Murray and new coach Lendl had teamed up in a grand slam event following the latter's appointment at the turn of the year.

And Murray admitted the Czech accepted first-round assignments at major events can throw up difficulties.

 

He said: "He was very happy.

"He understands how you might be feeling at the start of a grand slam, what it's like to play against someone that you haven't played against, what it's like playing in different conditions, how you feel in really warm conditions.

"It's just good to have someone there that understands all of those things.

"Someone maybe without the experience might walk in and be like: 'what the hell were you doing in the first set? What were you playing at in the first six or seven games?'

"He understands the feelings that you go through. Once I started moving better, I played better and the last few sets were good."

In temperatures in the 90s it was always going to be difficult on Hisense Arena, but Harrison certainly acclimatised the quicker, breaking twice to land the opening set with Murray frequently complaining about his footwear.

A strong start to the second set was key for the world number four and the momentum of the match swung back in his favour when he broke for a 3-1 lead, the break point created by a stunning backhand pass down the line.

Harrison, 19, seemed deflated and although he showed flashes of brilliance to suggest he has a bright future in the game, the result thereafter was never in doubt.

A missed volley saw Harrison relinquish his serve in the opening game of the third set and although Murray cut a frustrated figure as he missed numerous chances to extend his lead he duly claimed a two-sets-to-one advantage before running through the fourth to advance to a meeting with Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

"Some weeks you feel very comfortable in the conditions straight away and sometimes it takes a few matches," added Murray.

"It was incredibly hot today and the balls were bouncing up very high whereas it has been cool.

"And this court particularly reacts a lot to the temperature. It took me a little while to adjust to that.

"Also I've never played or hit against him before, so it always takes a bit of time to get used to the guy you're playing. But once I did, I started to play better."

Murray, who also played down concerns over his left hamstring despite twice clutching it after chasing wide balls, admitted he knows little of second-round opponent Vasselin.

"I don't know much about him but he is playing the best tennis of his career," he said.

"I am going to have to play well to beat him."

Vasselin today profited from opponent Xavier Malisse retiring at the end of the first set.

"I don't know what happened to Malisse but Vasselin is going to be fresh," said Murray.

PA

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