Andy Murray eases into second round with scrappy win on his return to Roland Garros
ANDY MURRAY won a scrappy contest against Andrey Golubev in four sets to mark his return to the French Open.
The Wimbledon champion began well but got bogged down in heavy conditions and dropped the third set before recovering to win 6-1 6-4 3-6 6-3.
Murray, who missed the tournament last year with back problems, will play Australian Marinko Matosevic or German-Jamaican Dustin Brown in the second round.
Golubev has won only one match at Roland Garros in his career, but Murray said after his win: "He'a a tough player.
"He's extremely aggressive, he puts you on the back foot very early. I tried to be patient. It was quite windy, especially at the start. I didn't go for my shots too much and finally got the win.
"Last year was tough for me, I didn't get to play much (on clay). It was very tough watching Roland Garros on TV. I've tried to improve my movement, get a little bit more top spin on my shots."
Murray's on-court chat with former French player Fabrice Santoro then moved onto his potential new coach.
The Scot said before the tournament he had identified the person he wanted to replace Ivan Lendl but has kept the name a secret.
Murray joked "not many people want to work with me" before asking if Santoro, one of his favourite players, would be one.
The 41-year-old promptly produced a business card, which Murray kissed and put in his pocket.
Murray had won both his previous two matches against Golubev easily, but the world number 53 is a flashy player who last month beat Stanislas Wawrinka in the Davis Cup.
Murray made the perfect start, breaking the Golubev serve in the second game, his quality and consistency proving too much for the Kazakh.
Golubev did not hold serve at all in the opener but there was a sign of the difficulties to come as Murray dropped serve in the fifth game and then needed four set points to clinch the opener.
Murray has had an indifferent season so far but went into the French Open on the back of one of the best clay-court performances of his career, albeit in defeat to Rafael Nadal in Rome.
He was mostly dealing well with Golubev's streaky play, the Kazakh mixing winners with shanks and simple errors.
The underdog finally held serve to start the second set but in the fifth game Murray pounced again, only to then throw in a poor game of his own as Golubev levelled at 4-4.
The Scot appeared to be bothered by a TV camera suspended on wires, which was in his eyeline when he served, and he complained to the umpire.
But he forged ahead again straight away by breaking serve for the fifth time, and then held on to take the set when Golubev netted a forehand.
Murray's problems really began at the start of the third set, although there was no sign of that when he broke the Golubev serve yet again in the first game.
But Murray's own serve had gone completely off the boil, his first-serve percentage dropping into the low 30s, and it was not until he was 5-2 down that he finally held.
It was too late to save the set but at least was something to hold onto at the start of the fourth set, and he made the perfect start by moving into a 3-0 lead.
Murray's stats were hardly impressive but Golubev had broken a half-century for unforced errors.
The Scot had a point for 4-0 after a remarkable backhand winner, but Golubev saved that.
Golubev saved two match points as well but missed a return on the third as Murray ground out victory after two hours and 35 minutes.