Madrid roundup: Murray defeats Mayer, Raonic and Isner fall

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Andy Murray found it surprisingly difficult against Florian Mayer in his opening match today, needing two tiebreaks to defeat the German 7-6(11) 7-6(3). After an tame exit to Stanislas Wawrinka in Monte Carlo, Murray was looking for improvement but despite the win he looked far from comfortable. 12 consecutive holds saw a first set tie break, but serve was not so dominant in the breaker. Murray twice held minibreaks early but would find himself pegged back twice, the second time as part of a three point streak which saw Mayer get his first set point which was quickly wiped out. Mayer would get a second set point this time on serve but failed to convert once more. At 10-10, Murray would double fault to give the German a second chance but once more he could not convert – losing three straight points and with it a set that really should have been his.

Murray was breathing heavily throughout the tie break and fell down an early break as part of eight straight points for Mayer to take a 3-0 lead. Mayer would fail to hold on to the break, dropping serve at 4-2 up. Murray tied it up and looked like he would avoid a second tie break when he earned a break point from 40-0 down on the Mayer serve but the German held and so it would be up to Murray to serve to stay in the set. He would do so and take an early minibreak in the tie break, holding on until the end, eventually taking it 7-3 to move into the next round.

Fernando Verdasco earned a surprise win over Milos Raonic, defeating the Canadian in three sets 6-4 2-6 7-6(7). Verdasco went well here last year but given his poor run of form the victory was quite the shock. After saving two break points early on, the Spaniard would get the only break of the first set at 3-3, as he began to find a rhythm on the Raonic serve. While he missed the opportunity on return to close out the set, he would manage to close it out but not without two more set points going astray.

The Raonic serve was much more effective in the second, as he dropped just 2 points on first serve on his way to a 6-2 set victory. Serving to stay in the set, Verdasco couldn’t hold from 0-40 down and would hand what seemed the advantage to Raonic, allowing him to serve first in the decider.

Despite being the dominant one on serve in the second, it was Raonic who was having all the trouble in the deciding set. He saved 4 break points in total including three at *5-5 with the tiebreak looming. A 4-1 lead for Raonic looked like the match was done but Verdasco would bounce back once more, winning 4 points in a row with the opportunity to serve it out but handed the minibreak straight back before earning his first match point. Raonic would wipe it out with an ace for 6-6, only to double fault the very next point. Verdasco failed to convert but would earn a second match point on return, making no mistake this time for an excellent victory.

Pablo Andujar also saw off a big server in John Isner, defeating the American in straights 6-4 6-4. Isner started badly and would find himself down 0-40 to start the match, saving two but not the third. It would be all Andujar needed but he had a chance to take the set on return but Isner ensured the pressure would be all on the Spaniard to serve it out. He did so fairly comfortably to 15, just one of five points lost on serve in the set.

Isner served over 80% first serve in the match but once more it would be the one bad service game that did for him, this time coming at 1-1 in the second. Andujar was proving solid on serve but provided Isner with two break chances at *3-2 up, but he could not convert. It would be much simpler for Andujar in the remaining two service games, dropping just one point to take his spot in round three.

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