MELBOURNE (AFP) – Andy Murray ground out a well deserved straight sets win over spunky Illya Marchenko to open his battle for a first Australian Open title in Melbourne on Monday.
The world number one, who has lost five Australian finals – four of them to his key opponent Novak Djokovic – cut out a 7-5, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 triumph in 2hr 47min on Rod Laver Arena.
It was an unforgiving physical workout for the British top seed, who battled back after a flimsy start to wear out his 93rd-positioned Ukrainian rival in depleting heat.
Murray will go up against Russian qualifier Andrey Rublev in the second round.
The world number one started shakily with three twofold blames and alongside an unforced forehand blunder he dropped his opening administration diversion.
Murray crushed spirit and gave off an impression of being getting into the section to serve for the set at 5-3, yet Marchenko reeled off two winning goes to break his serve.
The Scot sat in his seat seething at the changeover over and again saying “stunning, stunning stuff” coordinated to his player’s container over the court.
He at last wrapped up the opening set in 55 minutes in the wake of breaking the Ukrainian’s serve at 6-5.
In any case, an indication of his dissatisfaction was that his serve was softened up three of his initial eight administration amusements.
Murray required 76 minutes to assert a sudden death round and produce a two sets to nil lead in an exceptionally physical experience with Marchenko before snatching a twofold sever the shrinking Marchenko to assume responsibility of the choosing set and tempest to triumph.