BRITAIN’S Andy Murray continued his bid to qualify for the season ending ATP World Tour Finals in London by seeing off the challenge of Jurgen Melzer in the first round of the Valencia Open yesterday.
The 27-year-old dispatched the veteran Austrian in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, to set up a second-round clash with Italy’s Fabio Fognini today.
A repeat of Murray’s 2009 Valencia Open success would see the world No10 climb to fifth in the Race to London rankings and all but ensure his qualification for the O2 Arena spectacle next month.
The former Wimbledon champion beat Spain’s David Ferrer in the Vienna Open final on Sunday and a crucial semi-final clash with the Spaniard, who is also vying to make the ATP Finals, remains a possibility.
Top seed Ferrer beat Andreas Seppi 6-3, 7-5 while Murray received a further boost when Czech star Tomas Berdych, also a rival for a berth at the finals, suffered a setback with an opening-round loss to home favourite Pablo Andujar.
World No1 Serena Williams, meanwhile, suffered a shock 6-0, 6-2 thrashing at the hands of Romania’s Simona Halep at the WTA Finals in Singapore, a result which equaled her worst defeat of a trophyladen career. The 18-time grand slam champion surrendered her 16-match winning streak while the defeat was Williams’ heaviest since losing 6-1, 6-1 to Joannette Kruger in 1998.