Murray beats Bhambri, Matosevic next
Originally published on 19/01/15
Murray reached the second round in straight sets, 6-3 6-4 7-6(3), but although he never looked capable of pulling off an upset, world No.317 Bhambri gave Murray a run for his money on Margaret Court Arena.
Bhambri was Murray’s lowest-ranked opponent at a Grand Slam in six years – his 2009 Australian Open first-round opponent Andrei Pavel was ranked No.1141 – but the 22-year-old defied his ranking as he took the match to the three-time finalist in Melbourne.
"He's way better than ranked 300 in the world," said Murray. "I would imagine by the end of this year he would definitely be around 100 in the world. He's talented. Good volleys. He likes to take the ball early and come forward. I would be surprised if on some stage in his career he wasn't around the top 100 in the world. If he continues playing like that, I think by the end of this year he won't be far off."
It was Murray who broke first in the fourth game of the opening set, but any hopes that the two-time Grand Slam champion would be breezing to victory were swiftly quashed when Bhambri broke back in the seventh game. Murray soon got back on top, sealing the opening set with an ace, but it set the scene for the match as Bhambri came out on top in the longer rallies and won 23 points at the net.
Murray cut a frustrated figure as he found himself a break down in the third set, angrily berating himself during a change of ends, but he was able to get back on level terms before proving too experienced for Bhambri in the third-set tiebreak.
"I thought it was a tricky match," Murray said. "He played very close to the baseline on that court. He was coming forward a lot. Even when I was hitting good returns, he was changing the direction of the ball very quickly and coming to the net. He played well up at the net. He had good hands, solid volleys and made it tough.
"I thought I served well the whole match. I could have been a little bit better my first shot after the return. I don't know if that was something to do with me feeling like the court was a bit quicker. I felt a little bit rushed there."
Murray’s second-round opponent is more of a known quantity: Australian Marinko Matosevic, who beat Russian qualifier Alexander Kudryavtsev 6-3 6-7(5) 4-6 7-5 6-3 to claim his first main draw victory at his home Slam at the sixth attempt. Murray leads their head-to-head 2-0 and beat Matosevic in straight sets at the Hopman Cup earlier this month.
"I know Marinko very well," said Murray. "I get on well with him. "He hadn't won a Grand Slam match before the French Open last year and now I think he started to relax and loosen up once he got the win at the French Open. He's a good ball striker, a big guy. He serves well. He works extremely hard and has a good work ethic. It'll be a fun match."
Murray’s likely fourth-round opponent, Grigor Dimitrov, kicked off his Australian Open campaign in impressive fashion after sweeping past Germany’s Dustin Brown 6-2 6-3 6-2 in just 69 minutes. The Bulgarian won 90% of points on his first serve and made just six unforced errors as he booked his place in the second round, where he awaits either Lukas Lacko, who beat Argentine Maximo Gonzalez in five sets.