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Murray breezes in to second round
Andy Murray looked every inch a grand slam champion with a near-flawless display to brush aside the challenge of Robin Haase at the Australian Open.
The world number three claimed beforehand he was stepping into the unknown as he set out to win one of the game's four biggest prizes as a major winner for the first time following his success at the US Open in September.
But the early impressions were that he was quite comfortable with his newly-elevated status as he proved too good for dangerous Dutchman Haase, winning 6-3 6-1 6-3 in one hour and 37 minutes.
"It was a good start and nice to win in straight sets," said Murray. "It was the hottest day we have had for a while and the court was playing quicker so it's nice to get through."
Haase's unpredictable, big-hitting game meant the first set was entertaining and competitive. But having seen his best efforts come to nought, Haase, 53rd in the world, was gradually worn down as the Scot powered through.
Haase made a confident start, holding his serve in the opening game to love, but was then second best as the Olympic gold medal winner matched two-time defending Melbourne champion Novak Djokovic, who crushed Paul-Henri Mathieu, in hitting top form right away.
On a warm morning, Murray looked cool and composed. He broke for a 2-1 lead at the second opportunity - after narrowly missing on the first with an improvised flick up the line. A wobble saw Murray have to save five break points as Haase started to go for broke, especially on the third seed's slightly suspect second serve, and the Dutchman did break through two games later to reduce the deficit to 5-3. But Murray simply raised his level to take the Haase serve immediately and win the first set in 41 minutes.
Although it briefly remained competitive at the start of the second, Haase's challenge was beginning to wilt. Murray broke for a 3-1 lead and then again for 5-1 after his opponent dumped a dispirited forehand into the net. Murray served it out to take it 6-1 and establish a two-set advantage.
The third was a procession as Murray cruised into a 4-1 lead without breaking sweat. And the sense that it was all too easy could be the only explanation behind a lapse in concentration which saw Murray play a sloppy service game as Haase got one of the breaks back. But it did not prove particularly damaging as Murray simply hit back to complete a hugely-impressive opening-round triumph.
Next up for Murray is Joao Sousa, who beat Australian wildcard John-Patrick Smith in straight sets. It will be Murray's first meeting with the Portuguese ranked 100 in the world.