BRITAIN’S Andy Murray overcame scorching 44C heat and a shoulder injury to boost his Australian Open preparations with two wins at the Hopman Cup in Perth yesterday.
Murray beat Benoit Paire in straight sets and then joined Heather Watson to defeat Paire and Alize Cornet in an epic deciding mixed doubles clash to earn Great Britain victory over France in the best-of-three tie.
The extreme temperatures are ideal preparation for the year’s first grand slam, which begins in Melbourne on 19 January and last year saw some players, including Murray’s brother Jamie, suffer heatstroke.
“It was a bit of an eye-opener when we arrived at the practice court this morning and it was 44C outside,” said the Dunblane star. “I’m from a small town in Scotland and the weather is not quite like that there. The conditions here are fantastic to get ready for Melbourne.”
Murray, 27, admitted to puzzlement at the soreness in his shoulder, a problem that flared up as he won the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition event in Abu Dhabi last week.
“I had the problem in Abu Dhabi a couple of days ago and haven’t had much time to serve after that,” he said. “It doesn’t really make sense for a right-handed player to have a problem with their left arm. So I am not sure exactly what it was and I had a scan in Abu Dhabi and that was all clear. But it’s still a little bit sore today.”
Murray, who has reached the Australian Open final three times in his last five attempts without winning the title, saw off Paire 6-2, 7-5. Watson then lost 6-2, 6-2 to Cornet to set up a decider, which the British duo eventually won 6-4, 2-6, 10-8.
Great Britain face Poland, who defeated Australia on Sunday, in their next Group B tie tomorrow and play the hosts on Friday. The winners of each group – the other pool contains Canada, Italy, the United States and the Czech Republic – progress to Saturday’s final.
World No50 Watson, meanwhile, has been named in Britain’s Fed Cup squad for next month’s matches in Hungary. Laura Robson is absent through injury.