Andy Murray shrugged off his recent shoulder problem to lead Great Britain to a 2-1 win against holders France on the second day of the Hopman Cup in Perth.
The Scot felt pain in his left shoulder during his Mubadala World Tennis Championship semi-final victory over Rafael Nadal last week and was spared from testing the joint when illness forced Novak Djokovic out of Saturday’s final.
Any soreness did not prevent Murray from giving Britain the perfect start as the 27-year-old men’s world No 6 defeated Benoit Paire 6-2, 7-5 in the opening tie of the evening match at the Perth Arena, and he later teamed up with Heather Watson to win the decisive mixed doubles tie.
“It’s a bit sore. If it was my right shoulder it would probably be quite hard for me to play,” Murray told the Hopman Cup YouTube channel after his singles victory. “I don’t feel it on my ground strokes so much, I feel it when I’m serving. I had an ultrasound scan in Abu Dhabi and it was absolutely clear but it’s still quite sore.
“Hopefully, it will calm down. Maybe it’s playing matches again after a little break, maybe I’ve just got it in the wrong position and tweaked something a little bit, but I should be fine.”
Alize Cornet, last year’s female champion, drew France level when she dispatched Watson in ruthless fashion by winning the women’s singles tie 6-2 6-2. The players took to the court after a 40-minute break to play the tie-deciding mixed doubles match and, after Britain won the first set before France levelled by taking the second, the match was decided by a tie-break, with Murray and Watson prevailing to earn a 6-4, 2-6, 10-8 victory.
It was also announced yesterday that Watson will lead Great Britain’s Fed Cup team at next month’s Europe/Africa Zone Group I tournament in Budapest.
Watson, Johanna Konta and doubles team Jocelyn Rae and Anna Smith make up the line-up named by Judy Murray for the round-robin event, which takes place from 4-7 February.
Britain are still without Laura Robson, who will not make her return to action until next month after a year out with left-wrist problems. Murray’s side will play three group matches, with the winners going forward to a play-off and the winners of that playing off in April for a place in World Group II.
Smith is in line to make her debut, and Murray said: “Our goal as always is to get out of the Euro Africa Zone and into a play-off for World Group II. We are fielding our best two available singles players and a recognised and very promising doubles team. I believe this represents our best chance for success.”
• Third-seed Angelique Kerber hardly broke a sweat as she sealed her progression to the second round of the Brisbane International with a straight-sets victory against Caroline Garcia. The Frenchwoman was no match for Kerber, with the women’s world No 9 needing just 88 minutes to wrap up a 6-4, 6-3 victory at the Queensland Tennis Centre.
The 26-year-old German next faces Russian Daria Gavrilova after she swept aside American Alison Riske 7-5, 6-3.
Fourth-seed Dominika Cibulkova will not be joining Kerber and Gavrilova in the second round, however, after she suffered a straight-sets defeat to Madison Keys. Keys fired down 12 aces as she secured a 7-5, 6-2 win as Cibulkova had no answer to the American’s dominant first serve.
Sabine Lisicki missed the chance to face Maria Sharapova in the next round when she lost to qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova.
The men’s draw lost a couple of seeded players as Gilles Simon and Julien Benneteau were defeated by wildcard players. Sixth-seed Simon was only on court for 68 minutes as he was beaten 6-2, 6-2 by 22-year-old Australian James Duckworth. Eighth-seed Benneteau fared only marginally better as he lost 6-4, 6-2 to 18-year-old local Thanasi Kokkinakis.