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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 January 2007, 06:52 GMT
Murray through with scrappy win
By Piers Newbery

Andy Murray
Murray will face Chela next in a rematch of last year's first round
Andy Murray eventually found his form to beat Spain's Fernando Verdasco in a scrappy second-round encounter at the Australian Open on Thursday.

The Briton, seeded 15, came through 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 6-4 to set up a rematch with Juan Ignacio Chela - the man who beat him in last year's first round.

After six breaks of serve in the first set, Murray took control from 3-3 in the tie-break.

He then recovered from 4-1 down in the second set before dominating the third.

"It was really tough today, conditions were really warm," said Murray. "I felt my feet burning but got great support today - they helped pull me through.

"He did a lot of running and he has a great serve and forehand. There were a lot of rallies and it was difficult."

The previous two matches on the Vodafone Arena had been played under the retractable roof because of rain, but the sun had returned by the time Murray took to the court.

If I play my best and have good support from the crowd, maybe I can win this time

Murray on facing Chela in round three

"I'd rather I was playing indoors," he admitted afterwards, "but I've done a lot of fitness training and hopefully it's going to pay off in these conditions.

"This year I think my experience is obviously much, much greater."

Murray certainly made a slow start, handing the initiative to Verdasco who attacked the net in the early stages and broke serve in game three.

But far from proving decisive it was merely a sign of things to come as the pair traded five more breaks, with Verdasco's wild stroke-making balanced by Murray's often passive rallying.

606 DEBATE: Discuss the latest from Melbourne

The Spaniard served for the first set at 5-4 but played a dreadful game, making four unforced errors, and he paid for it when Murray took charge of the tie-break.

A lengthy battle looked on the cards when Verdasco moved 4-1 clear in the second set but Murray stayed in touch and in game seven Verdasco had another wobble.

Four more errors gave Murray the break back and the Scot reeled off four straight games on his way to a double break in the third set.

Victory seemed assured but Verdasco kept swinging and strung enough winners together to get one break back, before saving four match points in a tense final game.

However, in the tight moments it was always Murray who held his game together better and he did so again to seal victory with a couple of big first serves.

Chela beat 17th seed Jarkko Nieminen 6-3 2-6 6-4 6-4, and looking ahead to their match Murray said: "He's a really good player and it's going to be really difficult.

"He beat (Lleyton) Hewitt here last year but if I play my best and have good support from the crowd, maybe I can win this time."

SEE ALSO
Murray v Verdasco gamewatch
18 Jan 07 |  Tennis
Murray's tactics
16 Jan 06 |  Skills
Men's Australian Open draw
13 Jan 07 |  Tennis
Women's Australian Open draw
13 Jan 07 |  Tennis


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