• Australian Open, Day Four

Murray roars into third round with win over Sousa

ESPN staff
January 17, 2013 « Serena and Azarenka march on | Chartbeat test »

Andy Murray's fine start to the Australian Open continued with a dominant 6-2 6-2 6-4 win over Joao Sousa.

The Portuguese looked easy prey on paper and that is exactly how it played out, as the No. 3 seed had little more than an exercise session on the Hisense Arena.

Sousa brought power into the court, but with it came inconsistency and Murray seized on the errors - and forced a host of them himself - to book his place in the third round in a shade over 90 minutes. With the thermometer rising in Melbourne, Murray will have been delighted to have got the job done in such efficient fashion.

Sousa made a bright start, mixing baseline play with serving and volleying, to hold in the first game, but a double fault in the third game handed Murray break points and he converted the second of them when his opponent threw a backhand into the net.

Murray's strength of shot has improved markedly in the past 18 months and it was in evidence early on, a blistering forehand off a slow ball whizzed past his opponent to leave Sousa in a state of disbelief.

Murray came under pressure on his own serve in the fourth game but he staved off the threat with a brilliant backhand passing shot and sealed the hold with his first ace of the match.

Some wild play from Sousa handed Murray a second break to lead 4-1 and Murray made it five games in a row with a solid hold.

Sousa stopped the rot in the seventh game, but Murray held to love - taking the ball so early and at times half volleying - to wrap up the first set in 31 minutes.

Murray carried the momentum into the second set, with brilliant returns forcing errors from Sousa and securing the break in the opening game.

At 100 in the world, Sousa is clearly a player of potential. But for all the good shots that flew off his racket there were too many errors. Two missed volleys saw him surrender a second break of serve of the second set.

The second serve was an area of concern for Murray during his first-round win over Robin Haase, but there was far more zip on the ball against Sousa and it enabled him to remain in control when the first serve went away.

A love hold from Sousa in the fifth game checked Murray's charge, but it was only brief respite for the Portuguese as Murray wrapped up the second set with some exceptional service play - the slice serve in particular working superbly.

Five-set matches are an alien concept to Sousa and any thoughts he entertained of forcing one were effectively snuffed out when Murray broke at the start of the third. He worked the break point by forcing errors and secured the break when stepping into a forehand and powering through Sousa.

Murray at times toyed with Sousa in the third set. The power forehands opened up the court and he pulled out his favoured drop shot - which had been kept under wraps for two sets - midway through the set to emphasise the confidence in his game.

Sousa did at least force Murray to serve out the contest, but he did so in style with ace No. 14 helping him book his place in round three.

A seed has been taken out of Murray's path for the third round, as Ricardas Berankis caused something of a shock by taking out the No. 25 seed Florian Mayer 6-2 6-3 6-1 in only 77 minutes.

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