Andy Murray beats Florent Serra in Australian Open
AUSTRALIAN OPEN Venue: Melbourne Park Date: 18-31 January BBC coverage:
Every Murray match live on BBC 1 or 2 Daily from 0830 GMT: live on BBC Red Button/website, 5 Live sports extra Daily from 0000 GMT: text commentary on BBC Sport website
Murray took a while to warm up but was eventually in cruise-control
By Mark Ashenden
Britain's Andy Murray produced a patchy performance but did enough to see off Florent Serra 7-5 6-1 6-4 and make the fourth round in the Australian Open.
The fifth seed raced to a 3-0 lead and finally edged the first set after a brief fightback from the Frenchman.
The second set was a much smoother affair and despite another wobble in the middle of the third, Murray kept his cool to secure victory.
Murray next faces John Isner, who beat 12th seed Gael Monfils in four sets.
The giant American 33rd seed beat the Frenchman 6-1 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5).
Murray wary of in-form Isner
Murray admitted he had let his opponent off the hook in the opening set but was pleased to progress.
"The first set was a bit closer than it needed to be. I had chances to go 4-0 up, didn't take them, and he started to get into it a little bit," the 22-year-old Scot told BBC Sport. "But to win in straight sets is really important. Especially the second set was good."
Murray was not expected to have too many problems against the 28-year-old Serra, who needed five sets to beat Jarkko Nieminen in the second round.
It was the first time the pair had faced each other and the Briton, who had only dropped 12 games in his opening two matches, began this encounter in roaring fashion by dishing up three aces before rapidly sealing the first game.
The flying start showed no let-up with a break and another strong service game, but Murray's wheels briefly fell off with Serra recovering to 3-3 and the man from Bordeaux again broke back to soon level at 5-5.
After reaching the fourth round in 2007 and last year, Murray is eyeing a quarter-final spot for the first time in Melbourne and he had to overcome a slight back niggle to finally wrap up the opening set with a ripping forehand fired at Serra's feet.
The French player, who has never progressed beyond the second round at the Australian Open, looked deflated having done so well to hit back in the first set, and Britain's number one moved up through the gears to race to a two-set lead - with a stunning lob and pass the highlights in game six.
The 2008 US Open runner-up was again quick out of the blocks in set three, but history repeated itself by Murray handing the initiative back to his opponent after leading 3-0.
With the Hisense Arena anticipating a potential comeback, the Briton soon found his range and with his serve continuing to perform efficiently and at times ruthlessly, his victory was soon completed in just under two hours.
Murray revealed his back was sore as a result of the sticky courts and believed his fourth-round clash would be a challenge.
"Isner is tough," he added. "He won last week and beat Andy Roddick at the US Open. He is 6'9" and causes people problems."
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