Andy Murray blasted his own performance and cracked a racquet in frustration before securing his place in the second round of the Australian Open today.
Murray defeated world No. 317 Yuki Bhambri in straight sets on Margaret Court Arena, but was made to work hard to claim a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) victory in two hours and 13 minutes.
The 27-year-old had to come back from 4-1 down in the third set and said: “The whole match he made it very difficult. He played very aggressive, he is very talented and he made it tough.
“I’d never hit with him or seen him play before which made it tricky. He had a bad injury last year and should not be ranked 300 in the world. I expect to see him much higher this year.”
Sixth seed Murray looked to be cruising through the opening set when he took advantage of two unforced errors from his opponent to break in the fourth game and then held serve to love to lead 4-1.
However, on his next service game it was the former Wimbledon champion’s turn to find the net on consecutive points to allow 2009 Australian Open junior champion Bhambri back into the set.
A brilliant backhand winner down the line gave Murray the chance to break straight back in the next game and he let out a cry of “come on” when he thought he had done just that, only to embarrassingly see the ball called in after it dipped suddenly and caught the back of the line.
That was just a temporary setback however, Murray winning the next two points to break before serving out the set to love, finishing it in style with an ace.
There was a worrying moment for Murray when he stumbled awkwardly behind the baseline on the first point of the second set, but the Scot did not appear to suffer a significant injury.
He was still not being given an easy time by Bhambri and had to save a break point to level the scores at 1-1, but a break of his own in the seventh game put him firmly in command.
It looked as though another lapse in concentration would prove costly when Murray fell 15-40 down in the next game, but he rattled off the next four points in a row and soon secured the set 6-4 for a two-set lead.
Despite that commanding position, Murray was clearly unhappy with his own performance, loudly decrying his own “shocking movement” as he fell 30-40 behind on his serve in the fourth game.
And his mood was not improved when a net cord ensured Bhambri took his chance to break, Murray slamming his racquet into the ground in frustration and appearing to crack the frame.
Murray was keeping up a near-constant diatribe against himself as he fell 4-1 behind, but it appeared to do the trick as a superb forehand winner helped him break back.
A tie-break was eventually required to settle the set and a double fault from Bhambri on the first point gave Murray an advantage he would not relinquish, the Olympic champion taking it 7-3 to seal an unconvincing win.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal got back to winning ways with a comfortable straight sets triumph over Russian Mikhail Youzhny.
The 28-year-old lost on his comeback from a wrist injury and appendicitis against Germany’s Michael Berrer at the Qatar Open earlier this month, but he looked much more like his old self as he won 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. Nadal, seeded third Down Under, needed just one hour and 49 minutes to dispatch world No. 49 Youzhny and now faces either Russian Andrey Kuznetsov or fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the second round. Speaking afterwards, Nadal pledged to keep on doing all he can to get even better.
“I am working very hard to try to get back to my best level again and the only way to get there is to work every day on the practice court and every match is important,” he explained.
He also alluded to the fact that he was unsure how he would react going into the game but was reassured by aspects of his performance.
“I was a little bit under doubt before, but I think I played without making too many mistakes and the only way to get better is to win more matches so it will probably help me,” he added.
“In general I was working well, returning well and I just need to build a little bit, such as being more dynamic with the movements sometimes.
“But for the rest I am more or less happy.”