Monday 27 February 2017

Tennis: Murray overcomes injury and early blip

Andy Murray overcame fitness concerns and an in-form Mikhail Kukushkin to win his opening match of 2012 at the Brisbane International.

Murray, who will be joined by his new coach Ivan Lendl in Queensland later this week, battled through 5-7 6-3 6-2.

The Scot (24), who appeared to be struggling with a lower back problem at times and also called for the trainer to remove strapping from his knee, will face world No 54 Gilles Muller of Luxembourg in the second round.

Kazakhstan's Kukushkin, ranked 91 in the world, broke the Murray serve three times and held several set points in the opener but could not convert until the 12th game.

Murray was under more pressure early in the second but saved two more break points before breaking in game four and serving it out.

After a tight start to the final set, the world No 4 and top seed made the decisive break to lead 3-2 and sealed a hard-fought win after two hours and 10 minutes.

"He was hitting winners from all over the place," said Murray. "I was a little bit slow but I wasn't expecting him to come out swinging like that. He was hitting the ball great so I was glad I was able to turn it around."

In the women's event, fifth seed Kim Clijsters won her second-round match against Ana Ivanovic 6-1 1-6 6-3.

Elsewhere, world No 2 Rafael Nadal, who was using a heavier racquet, was taken to three sets by Philipp Kohlschreiber in the first round of the Qatar Open.

Kohlschreiber fought back to level in a second-set tiebreak, before Nadal twice broke in the decisive third on his way to a 6-3 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 victory.

results in factfile

Irish Independent

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