Andy Murray opened his account in the BNP Paribas Masters with a fairly straightforward 7-5, 6-3 victory over home hopeful Paul-Henri Mathieu to book his place in round three.
It was a solid return for the Brit, having not played since his close defeat in the Shanghai final two and a half weeks ago. Murray served well throughout, firing down 12 aces and winning 84% of his first serve points, although he had more mixed success with his groundstrokes as he tried to find his rhythm.
Mathieu was riding high on confidence after reaching the semi-finals in Basel last week, and it was he who made the early pressure, earning a break point in Murray’s opening service game. But three successive aces on the ad side from the Brit rescued the situation, and his serve seemed to be firing from the off.
Murray was still trying to find his comfort zone under the lights, and it was the Frenchman who was looking to dictate the rallies early on. Both players were facing few problems on their serve, and the opening set seemed to be heading towards a tie-break. Read more (267 words)
But as the set entered the business stages, Murray struck. Mathieu followed up a double fault with a forehand error to gift the third seed break points, and the Scot made no mistake, lobbing the Frenchman for the all important break. However just when it seemed the hard part was done, a couple of sloppy errors gave Mathieu a chance to break straight back. But Murray showed his ability to raise his game when it mattered, firing down a couple of big serves to fend off the break points and seal the opening set 7-5.
The US Open champion was looking more comfortable now, and successive backhand winners earned him a break in the opening game of the second set. A love hold followed to make it five games in a row before Mathieu finally stopped the rot.
A delightful forehand down the line secured the double break two games later and Murray seemed to be racing away with it, but Mathieu wasn’t going down without a fight. Another sloppy game from the world number three saw the home favourite break straight back, which he followed up with a love game to cut Murray’s lead to just the single game.
Mathieu’s revival proved short-lived however, with Murray just about holding on to his serve courtesy of another couple of first serves before breaking Mathieu again for the match; the Frenchman double faulting on the final point.
In the third round Murray will face Polish high flier Jerzy Janowicz who upset 13th seed Marin Cilic in straight sets yesterday, having taken out Philipp Kohlschreiber in round one.