British No. 1 Andy Murray successfully booked entry into the second round of the Australian Open, where he will now encounter French qualifier Vincent Millot. The two are yet to meet in a professional encounter on the tour and it will be interesting to see if the soaring temperatures begin to bother the three-time finalist in his second round match on Thursday evening.
The world No. 4 appeared comfortable and relaxed in his first Grand Slam match since returning from back surgery, which had kept him out of action since September. Following his disappointing performance in Doha, many were wondering if Murray was fit enough to perform in Melbourne. The Brit quickly silenced his doubters, as he hit 12 aces and did not concede a break point throughout the match. He managed to convert 7 of 13 break points against Soeda, while only dropping five games in the entire match.
Murray thoroughly dominated the encounter against the World No. 112 Soeda, as he appeared to be the stronger and more effective player throughout the match. He was moving a lot freer than in Doha and admit that he feels looser than he did before the surgery.
“I maybe didn’t expect to play as well as I did today, but the signs have been good in practice,” said Murray. “I started the match off very well and did everything solid. On certain shots I’m a lot freer in the movement just now. I hope that continues. That was the whole point of having the surgery. I’m hoping it was the right decision. I felt freer today than I did for the past 18 months.
“Before the match today, you’re worried about the conditions, but you’re also just kind of praying that everything is good with the back and you can wake up the next day and all is good.”
Next up for Murray is the relatively unknown French qualifier Vincent Millot, who won his first Grand Slam match with a 7-5, 4-6, 6-7, 6-1, 6-3 victory over American Wayne Odesnik at the age of 27. The world No. 267 will be looking to secure a massive upset when he steps on court opposite Murray.
Prediction: Andy Murray in Straight Sets