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Murray races into second round in rainy Melbourne

BRITISH No1 Andy Murray admitted his relief at dodging a rain delay after breezing into the second round of the Australian Open with an emphatic victory.

Murray, seeded fifth in Melbourne, swept past South African qualifier Kevin Anderson 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 in just one hour and 40 minutes.

Stormy conditions caused more than 20 first-round matches to be postponed or delayed and, had they affected Murray, could have reduced vital recovery time in between matches.

But the Scot, who enjoyed the luxury of the Rod Laver Arena and its retractable roof, was able to avoid weather interference and will enjoy maximum rest before facing Italian Simone Bolelli or Marc Gicquel of France.

“It’s good to get the match out of the way today because it’s a long day for a lot of the players because of the weather outside,” said Murray.

“Obviously it’s good to get finished quickly. It is a good start. He’s a tough player. He’s beaten [world No3 Novak] Djokovic before in Miami and he’s won a tour event.

“He’s 6ft 8in so I wasn’t expecting it to be easy. I just got off to a good start, which helped. I broke him straight away which always makes a big difference.”

Murray’s relief at despatching Anderson, who came through qualifying without being broken, was tempered slightly by disappointment at his serving.

The world No5 managed to get only 35 per cent of first serves in play, but refused to let it dent his optimism as he seeks his first Grand Slam title.

“I’d like to have served bit better,” Murray said. “But I feel good. I got here 10 days earlier than I’ve done in the last three years. I feel good and I think that match proved it.”

British women’s No1 Elena Baltacha was among those affected by the rain, although it did not prevent her from taking her place in round two with victory over Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier.

Baltacha had to battle hard to overcome Parmentier after rain hit in the deciding set but prevailed 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 and will play 30th seed Kateryna Bondarenko next.

“I knew if I didn’t win a round here I was going to come straight out of the top 100,” she said. “I now fully believe I’m a top 100, maybe a top 50.

“I have nothing to lose against Kateryna. She’s a seed so I’ll give it everything I have.”

British No2 Katie O’Brien’s opener against Patricia Mayr was postponed until today because of showers.