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Australian Open day 2: Murray overcomes early nerves to set up French voyage

  Tuesday 17th January 2012

The second day of the Australian Open saw no real surprises in the men’s draw as favourites Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic progressed to the second round, although the women’s championship saw the biggest shock of the tournament so far.

Murray began his first major tournament, under new coaching from Ivan Lendl, with a win in 4 sets against the promising American Ryan Harrison. Yet, it was a win far from being straightforward as Harrison gave the British No. 1 a scare by winning the first set over an anxious looking Murray, before the Scot hit back  to win 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-2.

World No. 4 Murray faced the first scare of his Australian Open title campaign. Photo: Reuters

World No. 4 Murray faced the first scare of his Australian Open title campaign. Photo: Reuters

Harrison has been touted as the next Andy Roddick and briefly looked to be threatening Murray’s progress with some artful tennis in the first set. However he couldn’t sustain this high level; as the fourth seed’s greater fitness, skill and experience is rumoured to see him through to a second round match against Edouard Roger-Vasselin, the first of a possible four Frenchman he must beat to reach the Semi-Finals.

The most dangerous of those Frenchmen, 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, moved a step closer to a possible quarter-final with Murray, winning 6-4 3-6 6-2 7-5 against Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin.

Things were altogether more straightforward for reigning champion Novak Djokovic, who dispatched Italian Paolo Lorenzi 6-2 6-0 6-0.  The number 1 seed’s victory will have surprised no one, but its comprehensiveness coupled with his declaration that he feels “stronger” than last year, will reinforce the idea that he is the man the rest of the field must beat to have a hope of glory.

In contrast, the women’s draw saw the biggest shock of the tournament so far, as sixth seed and US Open Champion Sam Stosur disappointed her Australian fans by crashing out in 7-6 6-3 to World number 59 Sorana Cirstea.

Despite showing some fight by saving three match points, Stosur continued a dreadful New Year run of form that has seen her with only one win in three tournaments. As for her fans, their long wait for a home women’s champion continues, now stretching to 33 years.

No such problems were experienced by the other female top seeds playing today, as Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and beaten finalist Maria Sharapova completed comprehensive wins, Kvitova beating Vera Dushevina 6-2 6-0 and Sharapova triumphing 6-0 6-1 over Gisela Dulko.

Mark Worgan

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