Tennis: Murray makes hard work of qualifier Millman

Thu Jan 3, 2013 10:28am EST
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By Will Swanton

BRISBANE (Reuters) - Andy Murray narrowly avoided the wrath of coach Ivan Lendl after laboring to a 6-1 5-7 6-3 win over Australian qualifier John Millman in his opening match at the Brisbane International on Thursday.

The U.S. Open champion ran hot but mostly cold against the 199th ranked player in a match of wildly fluctuating tennis that lasted two hours and four minutes at Pat Rafter Arena.

The 2012 Olympic gold medalist revealed that former world number one Lendl, who was due to arrive in Brisbane on Friday, had not even considered the possibility of the Scot losing to Millman.

Before the second-round match, Lendl had sent a text message to the 25-year-old's hitting partner Danny Vallverdu asking what time Murray's quarter-final against Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin would be on Friday.

"December 22nd was the last day we trained in Miami before I went home. He messaged Danny and said, 'Can you send me the score and what time he's playing tomorrow before the match?' He hadn't heard of John before," said the Scot.

"He was obviously expecting me to come through, but it was very nearly a different story. The depth of the game now is so, so strong. None of the matches are easy. It was a bit different back in Ivan's day where they could kind of cruise a little bit the first couple rounds."

Murray was horribly out of sorts in a tight second set, clutching at his back, thigh and shoulder. His class shone through but it was not one of his finest efforts.

"I had seen John's name before, but I hadn't seen him play," he said. "I think it's important when you don't know how someone plays to find out about their character a little bit.   Continued...

Andy Murray of Britain greets John Millman of Australia after their men's singles match at the Brisbane International tennis tournament January 3, 2013. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz