Murray cruises past home star Mathieu on return to action at Paris Masters
20:25 GMT, 31 October 2012
20:51 GMT, 31 October 2012
Andy Murray showed no sign of the back injury that has troubled him recently as he advanced past Paul-Henri Mathieu at the BNP Paribas Open in Paris.
Murray returned to the court for the first time since he cited a back problem as the reason for pulling out on the eve of last week's event in Basle.
The US Open champion moved freely in his second-round match as he was at times made to sweat before eventually overpowering his 30-year-old French rival 7-5 6-3 in one hour 33 minutes.
He's back: Murray on court…
… serving to the ball to Mathieu…
… and looking focused in Paris
Mathieu, a wildcard entrant, pushed
Murray throughout the opening set, but succumbed thereafter before
conceding the match with a double fault.
'I felt okay. I served pretty well,
but I struggled a bit on the return especially at the beginning of the
match,' Murray told Sky Sports 2.
'It's hard to say (how long it will
take to return to full match sharpness). I've been playing very well in
practice and felt confident today, but when the match started it's
Backhand: Murray returns the ball to France's Paul Henri Mathieu at the Paris Masters
'I struggled with my timing. I've never played my best tennis at this tournament, but I'd like to change that.
'You'd hope after three or four matches you are starting to play better.'
Murray will next meet qualifier Jerzy
Janowicz, who he beat in the Davis Cup a couple of years ago, after the
Pole upset 13th seed Marin Cilic.
Looking up: Murray is now the favourite for the prestigious Paris title after Novak Djokovic was beaten
That will come as a relief to Murray
who was solid rather than spectacular in his first match since losing
the final in Shanghai to Novak Djokovic at the start of the month.
He was forced to battle in a competitive opening set that lasted just shy of an hour.
The Scot was frustrated in the opening
exchanges as Mathieu looked the more comfortable in reaching 5-5. But
with the set on the line Murray found an extra gear at the right time.
Brushed aside: Frenchman Mathieu was out of his depth against the US Open and Olympic champion
After breaking Mathieu to love to make
it 6-5, he was still made to sweat for the set as the Frenchman grabbed
a couple of break-back points.
Murray coolly averted the danger,
however, firing down and ace before Mathieu bunted a second serve long,
to allow the world number three to close the set out soon afterwards.
After keeping pace with Murray for the
best part of an hour Mathieu started to lose his way as he was
immediately broken in the second set.
Eye on the ball: The British No 1 cruised to victory in straight sets on Wednesday night
Murray's passing shot was initially
called long but, after asking for a replay, he was handed the opening
game before a second break made it 4-1.
Mathieu briefly threatened a comeback when he pulled back a break but Murray stepped it up again to go through.