By Nick Mulvenney
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Andy Murray looked every bit the world number one as he gave Russian teenager Andrey Rublev a lesson in grand slam tennis to reach the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-3 6-0 6-2 win on Wednesday.
Only a nasty tumble in the third set on Rod Laver Arena stalled his march to victory and the top-seeded Briton said the right ankle he rolled on was “a bit sore” at the end of the contest.
“I don’t know how bad it is,” said the 29-year-old. “Just normally if it’s something like severe, a serious ankle injury, you can’t put weight on your foot.
“It just a little bit stiff just now. It’s okay. I don’t think I’ve done too much damage. See in the morning how it feels when I wake up. But hopefully it will be all right.”
Five-times a losing finalist at Melbourne Park, Murray had laboured through his opening round victory over Illya Marchenko in the full heat of the opening day of the tournament.
Wednesday’s performance in the evening of a much cooler day was of a far higher calibre.
The Wimbledon and Olympic champion was in clinical form, smashing 29 winners and ensuring that the 19-year-old Rublev was unable to get a single break point on his serve.
“It was better than the first match. I was hitting the ball a bit cleaner. I was hitting through the court more. More winners,” said Murray.
“I was able to get myself up to the net more. I served way better, too. That helps you and allows you to dictate more points.
“Second serve was harder than the other day. Yeah, most things were better tonight. But still think I can improve.”
Several times, he delighted the crowd with a series of deft shots that sent the Russian qualifier scurrying around the court before delivering a crunching winner that brooked no reply.
Rublev, the son of a one-time boxer, spent Tuesday sparring in a Fight Club gym and Murray, also a fight fan, suggested the teenager was not quite yet up to competing in the heavyweight division, in tennis at least.
“I think in comparison with some of the guys that are his age, physically he’s going to get stronger,” he said.
“I still think he’s got some developing to do there. When he does, I think he’ll do really well because he hits a big ball. He’s a clean ball-striker. “
The final time Murray sent the world number 156 running around the court brought up match point, which Murray converted when the qualifier went long after one hour, 37 minutes .
Next up for Murray in the third round on Friday is American Sam Querrey.
“He’s obviously a dangerous player,” said the Scot. “Big serve. Goes for it. Obviously had a big win a couple slams ago against Novak (Djokovic) in the third round (at Wimbledon).
“I’m aware of that, and I’ll be ready.”
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Pritha Sarkar)