Lacklustre Murray toils in the heat to overcome Harrison in Melbourne
Ryan Harrison ripped through Andy
Murray like a hurricane from his native Texas at the Australian Open, but then blew himself out before he could wreak too much
What always looked like being an
awkward first round proved just that, with the world No 4 forced
to scramble his defences before finally pulling through 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2
in a sapping three hours and 12 minutes.
Toil and trouble: Andy Murray looks forlorn after hitting a bad shot
With Ivan Lendl looking down from his box for the first time in a Grand Slam Murray admirably kept his composure to eventually subdue the gifted 19 year-old prodigy in temperatures that were up in the early thirties.
It is difficult to believe that his next opponent, world No 101 Edouard Roger-Vasselin from France, will provide as stern a test as the American, especially given Murray’s remarkable record of whipping players from across the Channel.
Roger-Vasselin, whose father Christophe reached the semi-finals of the French Open 29 years ago, progressed when his Belgian opponent Xavier Malisse retired with an arm injury after the first set.
Support: Murray's coach Ivan Lendl and Andy's mum Judy
One advantage he will have is being
fresher than the 24 year-old Scot, who was sporadically gripping various
parts of his anatomy in pain.
He did, though, keep his cool for
virtually the whole match, and his few self-berations were directed
very much at himself rather than his support group, with Lendl looking
on in true stony-faced fashion.
The only object of any ire seemed to
be his footwear on the sticky hard court, which was baked by a fierce
Australian sun on an afternoon with more strong gusts, from which he was
largely spared due to the enclosed nature of the secondary Hisense
Injury concern: Murray feels his leg
'I started to play better at the end, there were a few nerves at first,' admitted Murray.
'You want to play your best tennis at
the end of the event and that’s what I’ll try to do. He came out
hitting big and I had to dig deep at the start of the second set, which I
managed to do. This court is tough, there is very little shade and I
had to do a lot of running. Ryan is already good and he’s getting
This was a very good win to have put
under the belt early on, especially as Harrison came out swinging to
show his credentials as one of the coming stars in the sport, certainly
someone who is already better than his ranking of 84 suggests.
He was superb for the first seven
games, which saw him race to a 5-2 lead, partly aided by a very poor
fifth game from Murray, which saw him double fault twice and miss an
There seemed to be the attacking
intent that Lendl is likely to have urged on his new client at first,
but it came with a surfeit of unforced errors, and even when Murray
recovered one of the breaks Harrison, showing excellent variety in his
game, was able to serve it out.
The second set was crucial because
there was always the sense that the longer the match went on the more it
would work for Murray, five years his senior and super fit after
another punishing off-season in Florida.
Confident: Ryan Harrison took the first set
Sure enough Harrison, who looks a bit
like a young Roscoe Tanner and has similar power at his disposal,
started to feel the pace of being run around by Murray, who cut his
margin for error in the second and upped his initially poor first serve
He got his break in the fourth game
of the second and managed to hold onto it with relative ease, his feet
starting to move better and showing more enthusiasm for coming into the
When Murray broke for 2-0 in the
third set it threatened to become routine, but the American teenager,
who can be known to get submerged in frustration, kept fighting away,
helped by his outstanding second serve.
Feeling the heat: Murray takes a break
The British No 1 continually
forced break points, but failed to show the kind of ruthlessness for
which his new coach was known. Lendl will have been pleased with his new
charge overall, but may have been silently frustrated with that and
will probably want him to hug the baseline more. He will also have seen
close up that Murray’s forehand is not quite the weapon of his main
Harrison got a warning for
timewasting as Murray held on to take the third set and seemed to get
fired up again by that, forcing a break point at the start of the
fourth. Once that was saved Murray began to assert his all round
superiority, and fairly cruised home at the end.
In total this had been a good
performance in difficult circumstances against an opponent we will hear
much more of. It should serve as a decent platform for a run into the
Backing: Murray had his own cheerleaders