Andy Murray kicks off World Tour in style

Andy Murray began his Barclays ATP World Tour campaign in the best possible fashion with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Robin Soderling in the opening singles clash this afternoon.

• Serving up a treat: Murray looked comfortable in London as he beat Robin Soderling in two sets Picture: Getty

The 23-year-old produced a near-flawless performance in the first set and then secured the crucial break of serve in the seventh game of the second to see off a dangerous opponent with the minimum of fuss.

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The Scot said: "I was pretty excited today. It was important to get off to a good start. I managed to hit some good passing shots when I needed to and managed to come through."

Murray has been in decent form lately but few would have gone into the tournament with more confidence than Soderling, who won the Masters event in Paris last weekend to snatch the world number four spot.

The Swede showed his liking for the O2 on his Finals debut last season, when he reached the semi-finals, while Murray will be aiming to make the last four on home soil for the first time after missing out by one game 12 months ago.

Murray looked the sharper from the off and in Soderling's second service game he came up with two terrific passes to set up three break points.

The Swede saved two, the second of which when Murray just missed with another passing attempt at the end of an epic rally, but at 30-40 the Scot was allowed sight of a second serve and he made no mistake, creaming a trademark backhand down the line.

The court appeared to be playing considerably slower than last year, and it was suiting Murray a lot more than the bigger-hitting Soderling.

The Swede was in all sorts of trouble every time he missed with his first serve and the first set was all but over when Murray broke again to lead 5-2.

The home hope was at least tested serving for the set but, after the first deuce of the match, he wrapped it up in only 28 minutes with an ace and an outrageous blocked drop shot.

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With Roger Federer waiting later in the round-robin phase, both players knew this match was likely to be crucial to their hopes of qualifying from Group B.

Soderling needed to improve and fast, and he got off to the best possible start in the second set with a love service game. He then put Murray under pressure but a brilliant passing shot off a smash and an ace enabled him to level at 1-1.

Now it was Soderling's turn to feel the heat but this time the 26-year-old managed to recover from 0-30 to hold.

It was not the way he would have wanted to mark his first match as world number four, though, with the extra time afforded Murray by the slower court meaning Soderling was finding it very difficult to hit winners.

He was at least in contention in the second set, though, which was partly down to Murray's first-serve percentage dropping substantially from the impressive 70% he had managed in set one.

And in the sixth game that resulted in the 23-year-old facing his first break point of the match. An ace was the perfect response and he eventually held serve.

That looked a key hold when two errors from Soderling and a superb point from Murray took the world number five to 0-40 in the seventh game, and he was handed the break courtesy of a double fault from the Swede.

The outcome was never in any doubt after that and Murray, whose hopes were scuppered last year by his failure to record a straight-sets win, served out to 15 for a notable victory.