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Andy Murray beats Carlos Berlocq in straight sets to march into Indian Wells quarter-finals

Murray silences Berlocq with straight sets victory to march into Indian Wells last eight

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

02:22 GMT, 14 March 2013

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UPDATED:

06:07 GMT, 14 March 2013

Andy Murray fought out a niggly battle that did little to enhance relations between Britain and Argentina as he struggled to overcome the grunting Carlos Berlocq to reach the last eight of the BNP Paribas Open.

Amid accusations of deliberate stalling across the net and complaints to the umpire about the South American’s varied volume of lingering growl Murray eventually got the better of him in an ill-tempered affair, winning through 7-6 6-4 in an hour and 55 minutes.

He now meets another Argentinian in his fellow US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro, and will be relieved that he does not have to listen the ghastly soundtrack of Berlocq, which he described as ‘the worst I’ve ever heard on the men’s tour.'

On a run: Andy Murray sailed past Carlos Berlocq and into the quarter-finals

On a run: Andy Murray sailed past Carlos Berlocq and into the quarter-finals

Murray was particularly aggrieved that he was being warned about time violations between points while having to put up baritone groan of his muscular opponent.

'I’ve never experienced before when I’ve had to speak to an umpire about it,' he said. 'I’ve never found it to be that off-putting. But if it’s going to be suggested that I’m using gamesmanship by taking too long between points then you can’t be making noises like that on court. He was still making a noise when I was hitting the ball, it’s annoying. There was silence and then it was extremely loud, that’s off-putting.'

You wish other players would speak up against the habit, which is more associated with the women’s tour, but they rarely do.

As Murray admitted afterwards, he will have to play better if he is to progress further. 'It wasn’t the prettiest match and I’ve got to improve on it, but conditions were quite tough,' he said. 'When we went out there it was bright and in the 90s and the ball was bouncing very high, but as it got cooler and the sun went down my timing got better.'

Hot streak: Murray is enjoying his best run of results at Indian Wells

Hot streak: Murray is enjoying his best run of results at Indian Wells

Certainly you would not have expected Berlocq – happiest on clay, ranked 85 and never having been past the second round of a Grand Slam – to mount such a challenge, but he went for broke and hit some glorious winners to discomfort his opponent.

Having had six weeks off after the Australian Open Murray is yet to look entirely into his rhtythm at this tournament, where he has struggled before, although the fact is he is through to the last eight for the loss of just one set.

The only thing that will linger about the match was the bad blood that developed between the players from early in the first set onwards. Murray usually only gets cross with himself and rarely falls out with opponents, but he did not enjoy the way the barrel-chested Berlocq played the game and did not hide his feelings.

Having started in awkward conditions of glaring sun and mixed shadows across the court, he complained to his box – that contained his regular celebrity supporter Kevin Spacey – that 'I can’t see the ball!' as breaks were exchanged.

Outgunned: Argentine Berlocq was swatted aside by the world No 3

Outgunned: Argentine Berlocq was swatted aside by the world No 3

In the tenth game the two players swapped accusations that they were deliberately stalling, umpire Steve Ulrich taking Murray’s side. Playing very conservatively he was broken, but broke back in the next game and gave a huge ‘C’mon!’ and fist pump in Berlocq’s face at the net.

The tiebreak was a tense affair, settled at 6-4 when a scrambling Murray sent up a high lob and the Argentinian blasted an overhead long.

By now the 25 year-old Scot was getting very frustrated with Berlocq’s grunt/growl, as offensive as anything you hear in the women’s game. He complained early in the second set to Ulrich, saying it was ‘outrageous.’

Murray, whose forehand never fired and whose serve was more tentative than usual, could not hold on to an early break as Berlocq continued to hit out with massive, heavily spun groundstrokes.

Finally he got ahead with a backhand lob to break for 4-3, and from there just about managed to serve it out, although not before he had to save another break point at 5-3.

No, it was not pretty, but it got the job done.

Roger Federer says he does not lack ambition despite taking two months off

Don't view my break as a lack of ambition… I still want to win more titles, warns Federer

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

18:46 GMT, 12 March 2013

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UPDATED:

18:46 GMT, 12 March 2013

Roger Federer’s back is creaking again and soon he will be taking nearly two months off, but the Wimbledon champion insists that neither of these factors should be seen as his ambition waning for more titles.

Once he is finished at this week’s $10 million BNP Paribas Open Federer will retreat until May for practice and family time, and byhis return he is unlikely to still be world No 2.

Andy Murray, who earlier this morning was due to face Taipei’s Yen Hsun Lu in the third round, is closing and could usurp the great Swiss if he were to significantly outperform him at this first Masters event of the season.

Fully focused: Roger Federer says he does not lack ambition

Fully focused: Roger Federer says he does not lack ambition

Federer concedes that the forthcoming break will not help his ranking in the short term but believes it will make him more dangerous for the summer’s three Grand Slams: 'If you play well then you can manage your schedule, but with the rankings you do need to win the tournaments you actually play. I know when I’m playing well I always have a shot.

'My schedule is not in set in stone, maybe if I lost early here or won the tournament it could change my mindset but I doubt it because what I want to do is practise hard. I’m really eager for that because I haven’t been able to practise as much as I would have liked in the last two years.

Taking a break: Federer is set to take two months off

Taking a break: Federer is set to take two months off

'This year the priority is a big build up then coming back really strong for the Masters events in Madrid and Rome before Roland Garros.'

Federer’s back suffered one of its periodic tweaks during his third round victory over Ivan Dodig, but he feels he will be fine to face compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka today.

Victory in that could give him a much-anticipated clash with Rafael Nadal, but first the Spaniard has to overcome the season’s most improved player in Ernests Gulbis.

The colourful Latvian is very talented but has revelled in being an international playboy for the past three years. Now pledging to at least cut down on the drinking, smoking and carousing he has got himself fitter, and the result has been a 12-match winning streak.

Australian Open 2013: Gilles Simon confirms he is fit to face Andy Murray

Murray is favorite to beat me, admits Simon after declaring himself fit following Monfils battle

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

06:17 GMT, 20 January 2013

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UPDATED:

06:17 GMT, 20 January 2013

Gilles Simon, Andy Murray’s fourth round opponent in the Australian Open, confirmed that he will be able to take the court for the match despite suffering heavy cramping in his Saturday night epic against Gael Monfils.

The slightly-built Frenchman was unable to speak to the media after beating his compatriot 8-6 in the fifth set of an extremely gruelling encounter that lasted nearly four and three quarter hours, and was marked by the sheer length of the rallies involved.

He only appeared in public this afternoon local time, having needed extensive treatment when he came off the court after midnight in some distress suffering cramp all over his body following the most attritional match imaginable.

Scroll down to watch the 71-shot rally between Simon and Monfils

Shattered: An exhausted Gilles Simon sits down after winning his third round match against fellow countryman Gael Monfils

Shattered: An exhausted Gilles Simon sits down after winning his third round match against fellow countryman Gael Monfils

There had been rumours that he had been taken to hospital and might pull out of his meeting with Murray due to leg or arm injuries, but he quickly quashed those while admitting that he was still very sore.

'No, my treatment was here, but yes I was in bad shape,' he said. 'I’m never cramping on the court normally. I felt like I played the end of the match in a dream, like I was not even on the court. I was just hitting the ball, trying to run, and not thinking anymore. I was too tired to be upset or happy, at the end of the match I had just completely lost control.'

Gilles Simon

Gael Monfils

Epic: Simon and Monfils shared a brilliant 71-shot rally during their third round match

One of the rallies against Monfils had
lasted 71 strokes and took one minute forty second to complete, but many
of the baseline exchanges were long between two counter punchers.

'All parts of my body were painful but there’s no miracle cure so you’ve just got to have massage and stretching. I went to sleep about 5am and woke up about two o’ clock.'

Murray is about the last player you want to meet if your legs are heavy because he is so skilled at making opponents run side to side and back and forward, so it looked a mountainous task for the fourteenth seed to disrupt his march towards the last four.

Giving it everything: Simon rests on the net during his third round match

Giving it everything: Simon rests on the net during his third round match

Treatment: Simon received medical attention

Treatment: Simon received medical attention

Their match will start at 5pm local time so there was another 24 hours to recover, with Roger Federer the featured night match on Rod Laver Arena.

'With Andy I know how strong he is and of course it will be really difficult but at the moment I’m just happy I won the last match. Even if I don’t have a lot of chance to win this it’s my job to go on court and do the maximum I can to bother him and give him a hard time.

Next up: Andy Murray will be the strong favorite against Simon

Next up: Andy Murray will be the strong favorite against Simon

'It is not easy to win 6-2 6-3 6-2 against Andy and I’m not sure if we play longer than that I will be able to make it to the end. But I will do everything I can to be ready and I still have another sleep.'

Another small problem for Simon is that Murray has won their last nine matches against each other, so he would start as strong favourite regardless.

VIDEO Watch the amazing 71-shot rally between Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils

Heather Watson beaten by Agnieszka Radwanska in Australian Open 6-3, 6-1

End of the road for brave Heather: Fourth seed Radwanska outclasses Watson in third

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

01:58 GMT, 18 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

03:08 GMT, 18 January 2013

There was to be no repetition of the Wimbledon wipeout suffered against the same player in the same round, but Heather Watson could not save herself from bowing out of the Australian Open third round.

Despite a much-improved performance compared to SW19 in June – reflecting the improvements she has made in her game – Watson was beaten 6-3, 6-1 in 84 minutes by fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska.

It was a somewhat harsh scoreline and the British number one could have doubled her tally of games with a little more composure at the right time, but the Pole was always good value for her victory.

Over and out: Heather Watson was beaten in the third round by Agnieszka Radwanska

Over and out: Heather Watson was beaten in the third round by Agnieszka Radwanska

Consolation for Watson is that from her ranking of 50 she will go into the low forties, and has made a decent start towards her season’s goal of getting into the mid twenties. She and Laura Robson, the first two British players in the third round of a Grand Slam since 1991, have shown they belong in the top half century of players.

Barely ten hours after Robson had epically upset former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova on the Rod Laver Arena, they were across Melbourne Park on the Hisense Arena, the venue’s secondary stadium.

It was mid morning rather than past midnight and the weather was also very different, the famously changeable Melbourne climate swapping desert heat for much more overcast, cooler and windier conditions.

Winning feeling: Agnieszka Radwanska won in straight sets against Watson

Winning feeling: Agnieszka Radwanska won in straight sets against Watson

Priority One for Watson was to avoid the slow starts she had in the first two rounds, and the first set blowout she had against the Pole in Wimbledon’s third round, when she went down 6-0 in 24 minutes before losing the second 6-2.

Watson has said that the Wimbledon result ‘killed me’, and she might not be much more pleased with the numerical outcome of this, although it was definitely a better performance and one in which her more cautious sense of adventure was not always rewarded with good fortune.

She came out much quicker this time and started the better of the two, forcing two break points, missing the second with a forehand against a player you simply cannot afford to give second chances to.

Starting well: Watson did well at the start of the first set

Starting well: Watson did well at the start of the first set

Making the shot: Watson gets the ball over the net

Radwanska is an antidote to the biff bash school of women’s tennis that predominates, and sometimes gets mentioned in the same breath as Martina Hingis. She cleverly constructs rallies and opens up the court intelligently, relying on guile more than brute force.

At Wimbledon Watson attacked, headless-chicken style, but this time she was more prudent and sought to get to the net when she could, but the beaten SW19 finalist was always a little too solid.

Heather Watson

Agnieszka Radwanska

Mixed emotions: Radwanska celebrates her win as Watson looks dejected

After the disappointment of the fourth game Radwanska broke for 3-2, and then more decisively for 5-2, when the 20 year-old Channel Islander served a double fault and failed to get a point. Breaks were then traded for the set to be taken in 36 minutes.

The second was more processional, at least until a drizzle break caused the roof to be closed at 3-0. Watson paid at times for her overheads not being more punishing, and her opponent scrambled every lost cause admirably. There was a consolation game at 5-0 and should have been another after that.

Time for treatment: Radwanska gets medical attention during a break in her win over Watson

Time for treatment: Radwanska gets medical attention during a break in her win over Watson

Watson could have served better, managing only 51 per cent of first deliveries in and knows she has to continue working on that aspect. But she has shown more strong resolve in this tournament to pluck two wins out of the fire, and can progress further from here.

All over: Radwanska is congratulated by Watson

All over: Radwanska is congratulated by Watson

Australian Open 2013 LIVE: Follow all the action as Heather Watson takes on Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan

Australian Open 2013 LIVE: Follow all the action as Heather Watson takes on Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan

By
Liv Lee

PUBLISHED:

02:07 GMT, 16 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

04:14 GMT, 16 January 2013

Heather Watson battled cramp, fatigue and Alexandra Cadantu in the first round, and came back from a set down to beat the Romanian 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.

It was the first victory the British No 1 has ever recorded at the Australian Open, and now she takes on 82nd ranked Ksenia Pervak.

These two have never met on the seniors tour, but Watson can expect a tough battle from the Kazakh, who dispatched Mona Bartel, a player ranked 44 places above her, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 in the first round.

Don't forget you can send your comments to me at [email protected]

04.14: Jankowicz FINALLY takes the fifth set. Make way for Watson.

3.48: TWEET: Neil Harman ‏@NeilHarmanTimes

'Jerzy Janowicz is about to complete comeback from two sets down against Devvarman on No.8 with added value of bringing on Heather Watson'

3.33: Watson's match has been pushed back until 4am. Somdev Devvarman and Jerzy Janowicz are now into their fifth set.

3.15: TWEET: Mike Dickson ‏@Mike_Dickson_DM

'Long match prior to Heather Watson. Hope I'm wrong but think that Pervak may be a tougher opponent than some expect.'

3.00: Unlikely to see Watson on court before 3.30.

2.30: So far there have been no signs of the elbow injury that forced Watson to withdraw from the Hobart International earlier this month. British fans will have to hope that the problem doesn't return when Watson is in the best form of her career.

 It was fatigue and cramp than plagued Watson on Monday, not the elbow injury that forced her to withdraw from the Hobart International earlier this month.

No sign of injury: It was fatigue and cramp than plagued Watson on Monday, not the elbow injury that forced her to withdraw from the Hobart International earlier this month.

2.15: If Watson can make it past Pervak, she will face fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the third round. The World No 4 beat Irina Camelia-Begu 6-3, 6-3.

2.02: Watson unlikely to make an appearance until 3am because Somdev Devvarman and Jerzy Janowicz took 79 minutes to complete their first set. Devverman won the tie-break 7-6 (12-10). The two are level at 3-3 in the second.

2.00: Although these two haven't met on the seniors tour, they did face each other in the junior version of this tournament back in 2009. The 21-year-old Kazakh – originally from Russia – blasted past Watson in straight sets and went on to beat fellow Brit Laura Robson in the final.

Robson joined Watson in the second round yesterday after overcoming American Melanie Oudin with relative ease.

Monday's win was the first for Heather Watson at the Australian Open

Triumph: Monday's win was the first for Heather Watson at the Australian Open

Australian Open 2013: Jamie Baker loses to Lukas Rosol in first round

Baker's Aussie dream is over after Brit falls to Nadal's Wimbledon conqueror Rosol

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

07:45 GMT, 15 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:53 GMT, 15 January 2013

Jamie Baker was left to rue some missed opportunities as he fell in the first round of the Australian Open to the man who famously knocked Rafael Nadal out at Wimbledon last year.

Playing on a far outside court in the enormous shadow of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the 26-year-old Scot led in both the first and second sets before he became overpowered by the athletic figure of Czech Lukas Rosol 7-6, 7-5, 6-2 in a shade over two hours.

Having typically battled hard to make it through the qualifying event it was a disappointing outcome for the British No 2 but winning those three preliminary matches still makes it a decent start to the season for the world No 246.

Over and out: Jamie Baker lost at the first hurdle to Lukas Rosol at the Australian Open

Over and out: Jamie Baker lost at the first hurdle to Lukas Rosol at the Australian Open

Against 75th ranked Rosol, who played like Godzilla back in June to beat the stricken Nadal in five sets, he had to rely on his counterpunching skills from the back of the court but they served him well early on as his opponent started to get frustrated.

Baker broke for 6-5 in the opener when he played a clever chip-and-charge manoeuvre that brought an error from Rosol. Trying to serve it out, however, he allowed three break points against him and on the last one hit a forehand into the net.

The Briton, an off season training partner of Andy Murray in Miami, was always behind in the tiebreaker as Rosol threw caution to the wind and hit out to take it 7-5, having built up a 6-3 lead.

Cruise control: Rosol knocked Rafael Nadal out at Wimbledon and was in no mood to be shocked himself

Cruise control: Rosol knocked Rafael Nadal out at Wimbledon and was in no mood to be shocked himself

The second set was also a story of Baker not being able to capitalise on his lead as he went ahead 4-1 and 5-3 and again was unable to close it out. Rosol reeled off four games and Baker’s fighting spirit was sapped, with daylight between them in the third.

Consolation for the Scot is the 18,000 first-round loser’s money and a boost from his wins last week.

Having fought more than his fair share of injuries he is at least heading in the right direction.

Australian Open 2013: Laura Robson into second round

Robson beats American Oudin to deliver first win and join Watson in round two

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

05:33 GMT, 15 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

06:16 GMT, 15 January 2013

Laura Robson spent the first year of her life in this charming city and, just short of her 19th birthday, she has now won a grand slam match there.

The British No 2 convincingly overcame America’s Melanie Oudin 6-2 6-3 after 75 minutes of highly efficient combat, played out in warm conditions to reach the second round of the Australian Open, where she will join Heather Watson.

Robson now has the tough task of facing former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, a left hander to whom she is not entirely dissimilar in their natural ball-striking abilities. The Czech will not hugely relish the task, given what her younger opponent did to some illustrious names in the US Open.

Double trouble: Laura Robson joined Heather Watson in the second round of the Australian Open

Double trouble: Laura Robson joined Heather Watson in the second round of the Australian Open

Double trouble: Laura Robson joined Heather Watson in the second round of the Australian Open

There was also evidence in this first round match that the hard work Robson has put in during a long training stint in Florida before Christmas with Croatian coach Zeljko Krajan has already paid a dividend.

She looked in good shape, is gradually moving better and there seems to be some extra ‘pop’ on her groundstrokes and, especially, her serve. That yielded eleven aces on a medium paced hard court and readily got her out of trouble on the few occasions she was threatened.

Oudin is a cautionary tale, a rising star at 17 who reached the US Open quarter finals and Wimbledon fourth round but has subsequently struggled to handle the pressures thrust upon her in a country anxiously looking for successors to the Williams sisters.

Blue skies: Robson impressed the healthy crowd in attendance in Melbourne

Blue skies: Robson impressed the healthy crowd in attendance in Melbourne

Robson’s rise has been more gradual due mainly to growth-related injuries, and that may not be a bad thing. Having lost here in the first round a year ago she should now move back into the top 50 having slipped this week to 53, and she looks worth that position.

Supported by a decent British contingent in the crowd Robson, who arrived in the UK aged six via a long stint in Singapore, was even treated to a version of the national anthem as she pulled ahead in the first set.

Oudin, ranked 30 places below her, was behind from the start as the Wimbledon-based southpaw repeatedly tucked into her serve and forced her onto the backfoot. When Robson came to serve she was hardly threatened, regularly able to crunch away a winner from a short return as the American struggled to cope with the swing, spin and speed of her left-handed delivery.

Eyes on the prize: Robson will now take on former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the second round

Eyes on the prize: Robson will now take on former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the second round

The British No 2 was up around the 110 mph mark on plenty of occasions and the diminutive Oudin was left flailing around in despair, not helped by her misfiring forehand in the case of rallies getting started. Such was the accuracy of Robson’s drives into the corners that most of the time she was not in a comfortable postion to play the shot.

Robson got ahead for 3-2 in the second but then played her worst service game to get broken for the only time. She broke again immediately afterwards and this time had no problem consolidating, clinching a second match point when Oudin sent another forehand wide and long.

After losing to her near contemporary Sloane Stephens in the first round of the Hobart WTA event last week this was just what was needed, and she now has very little to lose against Kvitova in what could be steaming hot conditions.

Australian Open 2013 LIVE: Laura Robson takes on Melanie Oudin

Australian Open 2013 LIVE: Follow all the action as Laura Robson kicks off her campaign against Melanie Oudin

By
Liv Lee

PUBLISHED:

03:53 GMT, 15 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

04:06 GMT, 15 January 2013

Join Sportsmail for the very best live coverage of the 2013 Australian Open.

Tonight Laura Robson takes on Melanie Oudin as she seeks a second round spot in Melbourne. If she can beat the American it will be the first time that Robson has made it past the first round at this tournament, and she could face either Francesca Schiavone or Petra Kvitova in the next round.

Don't forget you can send your comments to me at [email protected] and follow our tennis correspondent Mike Dickson on Twitter @Mike_Dickson_DM

03.59: Robson
has made it past the first round of a Grand Slam before. The
18-year-old went all the way to the fourth at last year’s US Open,
overcoming Kim Clijsters and Li Na on the way.

She was eventually knocked out by Sam Stosur 6-4, 6-4.

 The British No 2 made broke into the top 50 earlier this month

On the way up: The British No 2 made broke into the top 50 earlier this month

03.41am: Heather
Watson fought through illness to overcome Romania’s Alexandra Cadantu
in her first round match yesterday, and now British No 2 Robson will be
doing her best to join her.

These two actually met during the qualifying rounds of last year's Australian Open. Robson took the victory in straight sets but since then the American has climbed from 166 in the world to 84th.

Robson has also risen in the rankings over the last year, breaking into the top 50 for the first time only this month.

Australian Open 2013: Andy Murray beats Robin Haase

Murray ignites grand slam challenge with straight-sets victory over hapless Haase

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

01:50 GMT, 15 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

02:41 GMT, 15 January 2013

Andy Murray had the privilege of walking out onto the Rod Laver Arena to begin the second day of the Australian Open as a Grand Slam champion, and turned in a performance worthy of one.

Freshly minted as US Open winner, the 25 year-old Scot was utterly commanding as he dismissed Dutchman Robin Haase 6-3 6-1 6-3 in just an hour and 37 minutes, being over and done with before the stadium had a chance to fill up before lunchtime.

Murray’s next opponent is Joao Sousa, the world No 100, who beat Australian wildcard John-Patrick Smith 6-4, 6-1, 6-4.

Game, set, match: Andy Murray cruised through to the second round with victory over Robin Hasse

Game, set, match: Andy Murray cruised through to the second round with victory over Robin Hasse

The contrast to their US open second round of 2011 could hardly have been greater, and is a measure of how far Murray has progressed since then. On that day in New York he fell two sets behind, was totally at odds with himself and also allowed Haase a last-ditch comeback when he had gone ahead in the fifth set after seeming to recover.

This was one-way traffic by comparison, the only time the Dutchman looking comfortable being the first two games when he held easily and then tested the Murray serve.

A glorious morning with tepratures of 26C and a half-empty arena greeted the players for this relatively early start. Murray has been acquainted with Haase since junior days and knows him to be a fluent shotmaker whose skills have not always been matched by his mental strength.

Easy does it: Murray was always in control as he races to a straight-sets victory

Easy does it: Murray was always in control as he races to a straight-sets victory

After the initial hump had been overcome the world No 3 settled into his rhythm, razor sharp on his returns and enjoying a pleasing consistency on his first serve, with the percentage success rate always up around the 75 per cent mark.

His ease of movement showed that there were no nerves and soon he was reeling off successive service breaks to put himself in total command. The second set was the most straightforward of all, over in 26 minutes, with the third taking only half an hour.

Murray was broken in the third at 4-1 up when it looked like he was going to completely steamroller his way home, but the result was never in doubt, which has not always been the case when he has started at a major, sometimes nervous of the expectations placed upon him.

Support group: Murray's girlfriend Kim Sears (above) and his fan club (below) were in attendance

Support group: Murray's girlfriend Kim Sears (above) and his fan club (below) were in attendance

Supporters of Britain's Andy Murray

If there was a slight glitch it was the fact that Murray had his serve broken twice, despite him ending the match with a 73 per cent first serve success rate, but that would be nitpicking and it was to his credit that the whole match was something of a non-event.

Laura Robson and Jamie Baker are due to play later in the day’s singles, but this was a promising start that suggests that he is in good shape for the more strenuous tests to come.

It was the sort of imperious beginning you are more used to seeing from the likes of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, which is about the highest praise that can be given.

Murray said: 'It’s a good start and it’s nice to win in straight sets.It’s the hottest day we have had here for a while. It makes the court quicker and it took a little while to get used to it.'

Cooling off: Murray barely broke sweat as he began his Australian Open challenge in style

Cooling off: Murray barely broke sweat as he began his Australian Open challenge in style

England lose to Delhi in India warm-up match

Bell century in vain as England slump to second consecutive ODI warm-up defeat

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

15:03 GMT, 8 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:58 GMT, 8 January 2013

An Ian Bell century was not enough as England slumped to a second warm-up defeat in three days ahead of Friday’s opening one-day international against India.

The tourists will head to Rajkot on Wednesday with plenty to think about, notably their failure to defend a formidable total of 294-4 against a Delhi team weaker than the India A side who overcame them at the weekend.

On another chill day, this time at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium where internationals are played, they could not stop the local select eleven overhauling them for the loss of four wickets with nine balls to spare.

Century boy: Bell scored a ton, but it wasn't enough to save England

Century boy: Bell scored a ton, but it wasn't enough to save England

While the batsmen did their job in the
watery afternoon sun, particularly Bell, who made light of the absence
of the rested Kevin Pietersen with a polished 108, the bowlers were
powerless to prevent their youthful opposition picking off the runs.

With Graeme Swann, Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad at home, new one-day coach Ashley Giles does not have too many options to turn things round before the end of the week, although Tim Bresnan sat this one out.

Certainly the attack looks short of leadership, with James Tredwell probably the pick and Steven Finn among those not having the happiest day.

Alastair Cook won the toss and chose to bat against a team featuring three players with full international experience on a day when temperatures mercifully crept over double figures.

Having sufficiently recovered from the heavy cold that kept him out of Sunday’s defeat, Cook looked fluent in making 44 before he was bowled when Sumit Narwal went round the wicket.

Bell looked slightly awkward at first but then accelerated gracefully, hitting a series of extravagant drives through the covers after advancing down the wicket. He should have been stumped on 60, but otherwise he added to Sunday’s 91 almost faultlessly, making his 108 in 125 balls with two sixes and 10 fours.

Rough start: New limited-overs head coach Giles is yet to savour victory

Rough start: New limited-overs head coach Giles is yet to savour victory

Eoin Morgan looked comfortable in making a near run-a-ball 52 and Craig Kieswetter added the late surge with 41 off 27 balls that finished with two consecutive sixes swiped over mid wicket.

Having overdone the bouncers under the new two-per-over rule at the weekend there was less of them yesterday and Finn was guilty over-pitching as India made a strong start that was only undone with the introduction of Tredwell.

Unmukt Chand, India’s Under 19 skipper and regarded as high quality prospect, had been going well for his 37 but then lamely chipped the Kent spinner to Cook at mid-on.

With captain Shikhar Darwan, owner of five one-day caps, heading towards a century, the home team went smoothly to 188 for two but two quick wickets halted their progress and suggested that England would get their first win of this tour.

When part-time spinner Joe Root trapped Darwan for an excellent 110 – Tredwell was convinced he had him caught behind just before he brought up a century with a six – Cook looked to have pulled off a masterstroke.

But the inexperienced Milind Kumar, 21, rebuilt the momentum of the innings to the point where 75 were needed off the last 10 overs, and he ended unbeaten on 78.

Picture dispute

We are unable to carry live pictures from the ODI Series in India due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations.

The BCCI has refused access to venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.

MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.