Tennis: Scorching Murray warming up nicely
Given the Siberian conditions in Ireland and the UK at the moment, Andy Murray will not be expecting much sympathy, but the world No 4 revealed in Perth yesterday that he was suffering from sunburn.
"My back is on fire," Murray said after beating Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4 6-1 in the Hopman Cup. "I practised yesterday with my shirt off and I got so, so burnt."
Failing to appreciate the strength of the Australian sun is about the only thing Murray got wrong as Britain enjoyed another successful day at the mixed team event.
Laura Robson suffered her second successive singles defeat, going down 7-6 6-3 to Sabine Lisicki in a tight encounter, but once again the 15-year-old teamed up with Murray to win the mixed doubles. The Britons beat Kohlschreiber and Lisicki 6-3 6-2 to complete a 2-1 victory. Murray and Robson face Igor Andreev and Elena Dementieva tomorrow in their final group match to decide who will go through to Saturday's final.
The Russians suffered a surprise defeat yesterday to Kazakhstan, Andrey Golubev beating Andreev and then teaming up with Yaroslava Shvedova to win the mixed doubles.
Considering the difference in age and experience, Robson's performance against Lisicki was highly creditable.
The 20-year-old German, who as the world No 22 is ranked 381 places higher than the 2008 junior Wimbledon champion, is one of the rising talents in the women's game.
Robson served for the first set at 5-4, led by the same margin in the tie-break before losing it 7-5 and broke serve once in the second set. Kohlschreiber, the world No 27, was usually on the back foot against Murray, who attacked from the start. The 22-year-old Scot raced into a 4-1 lead, suffered a brief dip as Kohlschreiber levelled at 4-4, but broke again to take the first set.
The second was one-way traffic, with Murray taking it in just 17 minutes. Murray and Robson were quickly off the blocks in the doubles, winning the first five games in only 14 minutes before securing a comfortable victory.
Although he has been on court for a total of just two hours in his singles matches, Murray said that playing mixed doubles was ensuring that he had sufficient preparation for the Australian Open, which begins on January 18.
"It's just spending time on court that you want," Murray said. "Obviously if the games go longer that's a good thing. If you look at it today, I probably had two and a half hours on the court in total. I also warmed up for half an hour. It's enough. I don't want to play loads."
Murray said he also welcomed the chance to play with the same balls and on the same surface that will be used in Melbourne. "I started serving really well with the new balls and then as the first set progressed I started missing a lot of first serves into the net."