Tennis: Andy Murray wins first match under Ivan Lendl at Australian Open
Published 17/01/2012 | 08:48
ANDY Murray put a smile back on the face of British tennis after overcoming a scare to see off Ryan Harrison and book his place in the second round of the Australian Open.
Murray started day two in Melbourne as the last Briton standing in the main draws after five of his compatriots departed in meek fashion yesterday.
And for a brief while the possibility of Murray joining them loomed large as teenage American Harrison came out swinging.
But his all-power game eventually fizzled out, perhaps due to the blazing heat on Hisense Arena, and Murray capitalised to win 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-2 in three hours and 12 minutes to advance to a meeting with Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
Afterwards, Murray paid tribute to his opponent and admitted he was relieved to have made it through.
He said: "I remember when I was in that position when I was younger and there was no pressure on me. He came out and played some great tennis and I really had to dig in.
"He is one of the up-and-coming guys and I was expecting a tough match and that's what I got.
"I started to play better towards the end of the match, I had a few nerves at the start."
The world number four will be pleased to have simply got the job done especially as he never looked truly comfortable on the second show court at Melbourne Park, clutching his hamstring on more than one occasion while he frequently complained about his footwear.
There was, however, a noticeable lack of the aggressive outbursts in the direction of his watching back-up team which had become regular occurrences over recent years, perhaps due to the presence of new coach and eight-time major winner Ivan Lendl.
Murray, of course, is yet to win one and the way he started suggested he was not about to break his duck here.
Harrison had already shown he would pose a threat, especially on the forehand side, when he claimed the first break for a 3-2 lead, although he received plenty of assistance from his opponent.
Having slumped to 0-40 courtesy of two double faults and a long backhand, Murray pulled it back to 30-40 only to hand Harrison the edge by netting a routine forehand.
Murray threatened an immediate riposte but two volleys from Harrison - the first a delightfully caressed drop shot - extended his advantage.
Harrison sensed blood and he remained on the attack in the next game, breaking to 15 as Murray netted a short backhand.
The 19-year-old had a chance to serve for the set but fluffed his lines as Murray hit back to trail 5-3.
However, Harrison showed commendable calm, especially for a teenager renowned for his on-court tantrums, to claim two set points on the next Murray service game.
Again the Briton held on, saving the first with an ace down the middle and the second with a big forehand, but there was no denying the American and he clinched the set in his next service game.
Murray required a good start to the second set to swing the match back in his favour and he claimed the advantage by breaking after a long, energy-sapping fourth game.
Having provided a scare when he pulled up with concern over his hamstring, the British number one seized the initiative on his third break point, set up by a wonderful backhand pass down the line, to claim a 3-1 advantage.
That swiftly became 4-1 with Harrison starting to struggle in the searing temperatures.
Murray was made to serve it out after Harrison held to close the gap to 5-3 but the Scot duly obliged to level it.
Momentum remained with Murray in the third set and a lob then volley combination set up two break points in the opening game and he took the first when Harrison netted a sharp chance at the net.
The teenage American looked as though he could unravel but instead he held firm, saving break points in three successive service games, however Murray was not made to pay for his profligacy and he served it out with few alarms.
There was a sense of inevitability about the outcome at that stage and it came as no surprise when Murray swiftly established a 3-1 lead in the fourth.
Harrison continued to show the odd flash of brilliance to suggest his future is bright but, on this occasion, Murray's experience and know-how proved decisive as he broke again for 5-2 before clinching the match.