Andy Murray beats Mahut to set up Pospisil clash

Andy Murray returns the ball to Nicolas Mahut during his straight sets win in Rotterdam. Picture: AFP/Getty

Andy Murray returns the ball to Nicolas Mahut during his straight sets win in Rotterdam. Picture: AFP/Getty

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ANDY Murray marked his first match since his Australian Open final defeat to Novak Djokovic last month with victory at the World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

Top seed Murray took one hour and 33 minutes to beat veteran Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 6-2 and set up a second-round meeting with Canadian Vasek Pospisil.

Murray – a winner of the tournament in 2009 – showed no ill effects from his loss to Djokovic in Melbourne as he did not face a single break point in the opening set.

The Scot coasted into a 5-0 lead in the second set before Mahut briefly rallied, breaking Murray for the first and only time in the game before the favourite closed out for victory.

Murray revealed he reaped the benefit of a brief break from the sport in the aftermath of his near-miss in Melbourne.

He said in a post-match interview: “I took a five-day break after Australia where I didn’t practice or go to the gym and I tried to rest a bit.

“I got here early and tried to get used to the conditions and I felt quite fresh.

“I feel better than I did at this point last year when I was still having issues with my back and finding that quite difficult to deal with, but now I feel physically better – I played some good tennis in Australia and so far here it’s been a good start.” 
Italy’s Andreas Seppi maintained his momentum after reaching the final in Zagreb last week – where he lost to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez – as he claimed a 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-3 victory over Dutch wild card Robin Haase.

In a match that lasted two hours and 14 minutes, Seppi converted on six of 11 break point opportunities to advance to the third round. He will now meet defending champion Tomas Berdych.

Gael Monfils upset No 7 seed Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 7-6 (5) to move into his second quarter-final of the season after a strong showing in Montpellier last week. The Frenchman served up nine aces in the one-hour and 41-minute match.

Sergiy Stakhovsky has also booked his spot in the quarter-finals with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Dominic Thiem. Thiem took out No 6 seed Ernests Gulbis in the first round, but wasn’t able to find his rhythm yesterday, failing to take advantage of his six break point opportunities. The Ukrainian clinched the match in just over one hour.

Garcia-Lopez also advanced after defeating Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, 7-6 (5), 6-4.

In doubles action, Scotland’s Colin Fleming and his English partner Jonathan Marray went down 6-2, 7-6 (2) to fellow Briton Dominic Inglot and Florin Mergea of Romania, while Spanish No 2 seeds Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez notched a 6-4, 6-2 win over Philipp Kohlschreiber and Jurgen Melzer.

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