Andy Murray finds rhythm to get past Granollers

Andy Murray is his harshest critic after missing a shot against Marcel Granollers. Picture: Paul Chiasson/AP
Andy Murray is his harshest critic after missing a shot against Marcel Granollers. Picture: Paul Chiasson/AP
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Andy Murray beat Marcel Granollers in straight sets in his first match as Wimbledon champion at the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Exactly a month after beating Novak Djokovic to win his second grand slam title, Murray fought back from 5-2 down in the second set to defeat Spaniard Granollers 6-4, 7-6 (7/2).

The Scot, who was given a bye in the opening round, had warned he would be rusty, and he lost the first five points of the encounter.

But Murray soon found his rhythm on the surface where he is most at home and reeled off four games in a row.

The world No 2 was playing aggressively and powering winners with both his backhand and forehand.

Granollers was the last player to beat Murray, in Rome in May, although the Scot had just levelled that match at one-set all when he pulled out with a back problem.

Murray subsequently missed the French Open before going unbeaten on grass with titles at both Queen’s Club and Wimbledon.

Granollers fought his way back into the first set by retrieving one break in the sixth game after Murray had saved two break points.

It was tight from there on but a missed backhand from the Spaniard, the champion on clay in Kitzbuhel last week, handed Murray the set.

The windy conditions were beginning to cause problems for Murray, the champion in Canada in 2009 and 2010, and a miscued forehand gave Granollers a break for 3-1 in the second set.

Murray may have the inner peace of having achieved a lifetime’s ambition, but he was fighting frustration as his 36th-ranked opponent stayed well in control of the set.

Granollers could not close it out, though, Murray saving one set point and then breaking back with some fine baseline play.

Still it was not straightforward but he forced a tie-break and from 2-0 down won seven points in a row to clinch victory after an hour and 50 minutes.

Murray said: “It was tricky. It’s extremely windy here and the balls that they use in the Masters series on the hard courts are very quick and hard to control so I felt like the ball was flying around a little bit.

“I didn’t have my timing, especially at the beginning of the second set. But it was good to come through, he’s been playing very well.

“It’s just good to get back on the court. The nerves were there, which I really like. It shows that I’m ready to move forward and not focus too much on what happened a few weeks ago. I want to try to do well here in Canada and in the States.”

In the third round Murray will play Latvian Ernests Gulbis, a hugely talented if temperamental player who made headlines at the French Open when he called the top four boring.

Murray said: “He’s a very tough player, he’s very talented. He’s caused a lot of the top players problems in the past.

“He goes for it so he dictates a lot of the match, he can serve 140mph and if he serves well he’s very tricky. I’ll need to play a little bit better than today if I want to come through that.”

Earlier, Djokovic, the defending champion who was also playing for the first time since Wimbledon, cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Florian Mayer.

The top seed and world No 1 needed just 55 minutes to see off his German opponent, capitalising on four of his seven break-point opportunities and rallying from 0-40 down in the final game.

“As the match went on, I felt more comfortable on the court,” the Serbian said after extending his winning run at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event to 11 matches.

“That’s something that makes me happy. Obviously to win the first match after four weeks, first match on hard courts since Miami basically this year, it’s been more than a few months.

“In order to play that well, I have to keep up and practise tomorrow, so I’m confident I can continue on.”

Granollers’ compatriot Nicolas Almagro and Frenchman Gilles Simon were the only seeded casualties in Tuesday night’s play. Czech Radek Stepanek overcame 12th seed Almagro 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, while Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko battled for a 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 success against 14th seed Simon.

Seventh seed Richard Gasquet of France – twice a finalist at this tournament – beat Slovakia’s Martin Klizan 6-3 6-2 and Tommy Haas, the tenth seed from Germany, advanced courtesy of a 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 victory over Belgian David Goffin.