ANDY Murray came through testing conditions to reach the third round of the Rome Masters with a straight-sets win over Marcel Granollers.
Strong winds at the Foro Italico in the Italian capital troubled both players, but it was Murray who adapted to win 6-2 7-5 and set up a last-16 clash with either Marin Cilic or Jurgen Melzer.
The Scot won four games in a row to clinch the first set with ease and although Granollers put up more of a fight thereafter seventh seed Murray was able to rise to the occasion, and he remains on course for a quarter-final showdown with reigning champion and world number one Rafael Nadal.
In a strange twist of fate, Murray, who was given a first-round bye, was paired with Granollers at the same stage of this event last year, and the encounter was remarkable because the two-time grand slam champion retired mid-match with a back injury which forced him to miss the French Open.
Murray’s problems with his back are well documented and there are still question marks over his movement on clay courts, but he was rarely troubled as he gained a measure of revenge over Granollers.
He went on the attack almost from the off and had the opportunity to break his opponent in the second game, but Granollers reeled off four points in a row.
The Spaniard was then broken in the sixth game, however, with Murray putting himself in the ascendancy with a backhand winner following a long rally where both players were hampered by the wind.
Murray then sealed the first set in clinical fashion after breaking Granollers to love.
While some sloppy play gave Granollers a way back in at the start of the second set, the world number 31 could not take advantage and was broken for the third successive time.
Murray squandered the chance to make it four in a row but he was never troubled on his own serve, winning three straight games to love at one point.
He sensed an opportunity at 6-5 ahead and although Granollers saved a first match point, a long forehand gave Murray victory in an hour and 25 minutes.
Murray said on Sky Sports 3 afterwards: “You need to think your way through the match, you have to be patient with yourself.
“I went for a high percentage of first serves today because it was very, very windy and also the sun was coming round, and the dust from the courts was getting in your eyes.
“It was extremely blustery, strong conditions and from one of the ends it was very tough to get any real depth on the ball so I just tried to play a smart match, tried to keep the ball low when I needed to and then when I had the wind with me I gave the ball a little bit extra spin to control it. That was it.”