It can’t be easy making the transition from Wimbledon champion to having a back surgery which keeps you out of the sport for over three months.
It seems unfair to expect the same sort of performances from Andy Murray that he produced so immaculately at the All England Club last year, however after today’s superior showing those expectations may have just gone back up a notch.
Even Murray himself admitted he didn’t know how his back would react coming into this year’s Australian Open, especially after the Brit had looked a little rusty in his comeback tournament at the Qatar Open two weeks ago where he was beaten by German Florian Mayer.
However that performance was a mere shadow of the one in Melbourne, where Murray was ruthless in sweeping aside Japan’s Go Soeda 6-1 6-1 6-3 in what was a strong contender for performance of the first round on the Hisence Arena, a game that lased just 87 minutes.
Murray looked sharp in all aspects of his game; he was rock solid from the base line and produced a dominant serving display landing 12 aces and a 69% first serve percentage.
The Brit also made light work of the sweltering heat in Melbourne, which exceeded 40c. Many players were troubled and complained that the extreme temperatures: “were unsafe”.
Caroline Wozniacki’s water bottle melted, Jelena Jankovic burnt her backside on an uncovered seat and Frank Dancevic required medical attention after fainting. Murray however suffered no such drama.
After the match the British number one admitted: "The conditions were very, very tough.”
However he, more than most, appears better equipped than anyone, he’s prepared the same way for this tournament that he does every year at his training camp in the heat of Miami and it could become a defining factor over the next fortnight.
He can now take advantage of what looks a favourable early draw and will face French qualifier Vincent Millot in round two. After John Isner’s retirement against Slovak Martin Kilzan, Murray is guaranteed not to meet a fellow top 20 player until at least the quarter final.
“I was taking nothing for granted when you haven’t played for a while you’re pretty stressed out and nervous to see how your back going to respond,” said Murray.
“I’ve played a lot of great matches and played some of my best tennis here so hopefully it’s good enough this year.”
Murray will now have a day’s rest before taking on Millot on Thursday, and after today’s routine victory many will now see him as a contender for the title.
Considering the circumstances that would be something special.
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