Australian Open: Yuki Bhambri earns Andy Murray's respect

Melbourne: Scottish tennis ace Andy Murray Monday said India's Yuki Bhambri was a much better player than his ranking suggested.

Yuki Bhambri reacts after a point against Andy Murray in Melbourne yesterday
Yuki Bhambri reacts after a point against Andy Murray in Melbourne yesterday 

Murray kick-started his Australian Open tennis campaign with a straight-sets win over India's Bhambri here.

The sixth-seeded player took two hours and 12 minutes to beat Bhambri 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (3).

Murray, however, had to overcome a set-back from being 1-4 down in the third set to recover to win the set in tie-break.

Bhambri, 22, was the lowest-ranked player in the draw at No.317 but tested Murray on several occasions, with some strong shots from the baseline.

"I thought it was a tricky match. He played very close to the baseline on that court," Murray said.

"He was coming forward a lot. Even when I was hitting good returns, he was changing the direction of the ball very quickly and coming to the net.

"He played well up at the net. He had good hands, solid volleys and made it tough."

Murray added that Bhambri was "way better than ranked 300 in the world."

"He missed five or six months last year through injury. I would imagine by the end of this year he would definitely be around a hundred in the world, if he stays injury-free," he said.

Murray, who has been working for the last seven months with two-time Grand Slam winner and coach Amelie Mauresmo, was pleased with the state of his game ahead of his next challenge against the unpredictable Matosevic before a home crowd.

"I'll try and use some variety to throw his timing off a little bit. Just continue doing what I've been doing the last few weeks," Murray said of his next match.

"I've been playing very well in the practices and striking the ball cleanly in the matches. If I keep that up, I'll keep getting better each round.

"I thought I was a little bit slow on the first shot of each rally. Once I got into the rallies I was moving good. That will get better. "I know Marinko very well. I get on well with him. He's a good ball striker," he added.

"Big guy. Serves well. He works extremely hard. He has a good work ethic. Yeah, be a fun match."

Murray has a difficult draw at this year's Open and is on course to meet Roger Federer in the quarter-finals in the bottom half of the draw with Nadal potentially awaiting him in the last four. He could also face world number 11 Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round.

With Bhamri's loss, India's competition comes to an end in singles.

Rohan Bopanna, Leander Paes, Mahesh Bupathi and Sania Mirza are the other Indians who will be competing in the doubles.

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