Andy Murray struggled into the second round of the Australian Open earlier this morning, battling past both Ryan Harrison and the brutal heat of Hisense Arena.
Murray came through 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 against the buoyant Harrison, who looks to be another prospect on the conveyor belt of young, American talent.
It was the 19-year-old Harrison who made the first impression, chasing every ball as if it were his last. He swarmed over any loose ends coming his way and, going against his lower ranking, clinched the first break as Murray struggled to live with Harrison’s power at the net.
Harrison, buoyed by an enthusiastic crowd, began to settle and let his sumptuous volleys do the talking. Murray wilted in the stifling heat and was soon another break down.
Serving for the set at 5-3, Harrison’s inexperience reared its head and he suffered a case of the jitters. A double fault and another error from the American afforded Murray a way back in.Read more (411 words)
Extinguishing two set points in the following game, Murray held, though it would only be a vain act of defiance. Harrison served out with a finely tuned radar and kissed the lines numerous times with a barrage of vicious groundstrokes.
Surely Harrison’s plucky endeavour in such heat would limit him in the end, though. Both men struggled with conditions in the second set, yet it was Murray, the favourite, who tasted his victim’s blood first. The spirited Harrison netted while in all kinds of trouble to hand Murray a 3-1 lead.
Murray began, finally, to relax a little, hitting accurately and serving with aplomb. However, Harrison, determined to succeed, attacked at will but was left powerless after a series of errors handed Murray the second set 6-2.
Harrison’s immense power and crushing forehands are, of course, all well and good but like so many before him, he struggled to cope with Murray’s endless variety. The Scot began to raise his level in the third.
An inventive stop-volley and Harrison’s misjudgement handed Murray a break in the first game, which he duly converted afterwards to lead 2-0.
Indeed, Harrison careered towards a murky path during the third set. He frequently yelled into the humid air after dumping shots into the net but, to his credit, managed to wriggle away from break points in consecutive service games.
Harrison could, however, do nothing about Murray’s stern demeanour when serving out. A miraculous, athletic volley at the net and Harrison’s wild backhand mistake gave the Scot, 24, the set.
As the fourth set began both men carved out break points, sensing this was the time to attack. Two netted backhands saw Harrison lose a break, though, and go 3-1 down. If only his play had been as impressive as his racket smash soon afterwards.
Inevitably enough, Murray’s volleys were dynamic here and nullified his opponent’s brute force throughout the set. His deft hands paid off during the fourth and he rarely encountered danger, serving out with authority to win the set 6-2, deservedly taking the match with it.
It was not a walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination. Harrison left Murray flummoxed in the opening exchanges, with the higher ranked player, Murray, looking hot and bothered in more ways than one.
Murray did escape adversity admirably though, and imposed his gameplan of moving his opponent into tricky spots. Harrison, quite frankly, couldn’t live with him in the end.