Murray tested by Marchenko in Melbourne

By for on
Andy Murray won a testing encounter against Ukraine's Illya Marchenko on Monday to begin his 2017 Australian Open adventure. The Scot moved into round two with a 7-5, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 win over the world number 95.

In the heat of the Melbourne afternoon, a net cord in the very first game forced a Murray forehand long when facing break point. However, he broke back to love immediately and then broke again at 2-1 up to move into the driving seat.

Marchenko was going for his shots and not always finding the mark, but with Murray serving for the first set at 5-3 the Ukrainian suddenly made some line-flirting attempts that hit home to get back in the contest.

Murray had generally set up shop some way behind the baseline and was allowing Marchenko to dictate play, but the Scot's famed defence and return eventually teased his opponent into a couple of errors at the worst time to allow him to break for the set, 7-5.

With only 47% of first serves in that set, Murray was opening himself up to exploitation by Marchenko. Yet the Ukrainian's 24 unforced errors let him down and gifted Murray a way through.

The second set saw Murray doing more scampering as Marchenko refused to go away. Some fearless and impressive shot-making saw the Ukrainian into a hot streak and Murray a break down.

The set almost became irretrievable from Murray's perspective as Marchenko threatened another break with Murray serving at 2-4 down. Some tenacious play saw the world number one through there, however, before he got back on level terms at 4-4 as Marchenko's radar eventually faltered.

Murray still could not shake his opponent off as the pair went into a second set tiebreak. This Murray took 7-5 as superior experience told.

Marchenko continued to play some silky stuff up the court at the start of the third set, but one foray to the net let him down at break point at 1-1.

Murray then exerted a degree of control on the match as his serve finally improved somewhat and another break provided him with some insurance.

A final ace, one of ten overall, brought up match point for Murray at 5-2 and a Marchenko error wrapped up proceedings.

Although this was a straight sets win - and not the five-set slog that other top seeds in his half of the draw, notably Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka, had to endure on the opening day of the tournament - it was not the routine warmup win that Murray would have hoped for.

He and his coaches, Ivan Lendl and Jamie Delgado, will have much to discuss before the second round on Wednesday against qualifier Andrey Rublev.
Thanks Joe for full and fair report.  I didn't watch but saw the executive summary last night.  I see Andy has attributed his below par play to the change in the weather.  Apparently it was cool all last week and the balls are now flying very differently.  That might also explain why other top seeds (not from Oz) struggled so much yesterday.  I'm glad Andy has the night match tomorrow as he doesn't want too many of these gruelling matches in the blazing sun.  Even though it was a struggle at least he managed to do it in 3.
January 17, 2017, 07:38 AM
By Ruthie

When it comes to the weather I think it's worth remembering that all the players are in the same boat.   I only saw a replay of the third and extended highlights of the rest, but let's hope this is Andy's almost obligatory one poor match out of the road!
January 17, 2017, 10:15 AM
By Aileen

January 17, 2017, 10:33 AM
By Tonedial

From the highlights, I see that Marchenko was hitting the ball big, pushing Andy back. In the first two sets, Marchenko played very well aggressively and painting the lines to break in both sets. Marchenko took good advantage of his ground stroke pace to come into the net a few times and won these points convincingly. This is a good/successful strategy for others to use against Andy who was forced back well behind the baseline quite a few times from Marchenko powerful attacking strokes

Andy was playing well, hitting relatively deeply. I particularly like how close Andy BH was hitting to the sideline. Andy though was playing a little conservatively, not really going all out in his shots, allowing Marchenko to dictate play, forcing Andy to run and defend. Also, there wasn't too much variation in Andy's play to bring Marchenko out of his comfort zone. I am hoping once Andy gets used to the court's condition, Andy will need to crank up the power as he progresses through the round. With Andy relatively conservative style of play, an inspired attacking player can definitely knock Andy out, or at the very least, will tire Andy out so much, it will affect Andy's performance deeper in the tournament.
January 18, 2017, 06:36 AM
By Philip

When it comes to the weather I think it's worth remembering that all the players are in the same boat.   I only saw a replay of the third and extended highlights of the rest, but let's hope this is Andy's almost obligatory one poor match out of the road!
and that's why I said that may be why other top seeds struggled - ie the weather was something of a leveller.  But of course those who started on Tuesday would have had Monday to practise in the heat so at least would have been able to climatise better.
January 19, 2017, 06:42 PM
By Ruthie

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