Lendl reassures Murray after Brit’s stuttering start to slam

BRITAIN’S Andy Murray insists new coach Ivan Lendl was “very happy” with his start to the Australian Open, despite having to fight back from a set down before overcoming American teenager Ryan Harrison.

Murray admitted struggling with the Melbourne heat and needed more that three hours to see off world No77 Harrison 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to set up a second-round tie with Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

But the Scot, seeded fourth as he attempts to end his long wait for a first grand slam title, declared Lendl, whom he hired at the turn of the year, more than satisfied.

“He was very happy,” said Murray. “He understands how you might be feeling at the start of a grand slam, what it’s like to play against someone that you haven’t played against, what it’s like playing in different conditions, how you feel in really warm conditions.

“It’s just good to have someone there that understands all of those things. Someone without the experience might walk in and be like: ‘What the hell were you doing in the first set? What were you playing at in the first six or seven games?’ He understands the feelings that you go through. Once I started moving better, I played better and the last few sets were good.”

Harrison, who has never progressed beyond the second round of a grand slam in 11 attempts, took advantage of Murray’s early hesitancy to break his serve three times in a first set that the underdog won in 51 minutes.

World No4 Murray had to draw on his familiar grit to get a foothold in the second set and, having done so, improved markedly as he closed in on an unexpectedly laboured victory on Hisense Arena.

“He came out and played some great tennis and I really had to dig in,” he added. “He is one of the up-and-coming guys and I was expecting a tough match and that's what I got. I started to play better towards the end of the match, I had a few nerves at the start.”

Roger-Vasselin, who benefited from Xavier Malisse’s retirement after the Belgian had lost the first set tie-break, is ranked 101 having enjoyed a steady progression in recent years, but Murray admits he knows little about his next opponent, whom he is due to meet tomorrow.

“I don’t know much about him but he is playing the best tennis of his career,” he added. “I am going to have to play well to beat him.”

HIGHLIGHTS | WEDNESDAY’S PLAY

Men’s Singles
T Haas (Ger) v R Nadal (Spa) [2]
A Beck (Ger) v R Federer (Swi) [3]
T Berdych (Cze) [7] v O Rochus (Bel)
M Fish (USA) [8] v A Falla (Col)
B Kavcic (Slo) v JM Del Potro (Arg) [11]

Women’s Singles
O Rogowska (Rus) v Li (Chi) [5]
K Clijsters (Bel) [11] v S Foretz (Fra)
C Wozniacki (Den) [1] v Tatishvili (Geo)
V Azarenka (Aus) [3] v C Dellacqua (Aus)
P Ormaechea (Arg) v A Radwanska (Pol) [8]