Andy Murray breezes in opener
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Playing his first Grand Slam match as a major winner, Andy Murray looked quite comfortable in his return to the Australian Open.
Murray beat Robin Haase of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 in the opening round at Melbourne Park on Tuesday.
Asked what it felt like to play after his triumph at the U.S. Open, where he became the first British man since 1936 to win a major title, the third-ranked Murray said: "I can try and focus on the second part of my career now."
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The 25-year-old Murray seemed more at ease and relaxed than he has been in previous trips to the season's first major.
"It was a good start, nice to win in straight sets," he said. "It was the hottest day we've had for a while so the court was playing much quicker."
After a record heat wave early last week, the last few days in Melbourne have been relatively cool. The temperature was heading toward 84 degrees when Murray was on Rod Laver Arena.
It's been 12 months since Murray started working with eight-time major winner Ivan Lendl, and he attributes much of the success in his breakthrough 2012 to his partnership with his new coach.
It's relaxed "in front of the cameras, yeah," Murray joked. "Behind closed doors he works me very hard.
"We've had a very good relationship so far. He's very honest, very open. He doesn't lie to you, he tells you exactly how it is and that's exactly what I needed."
"Hello, everybody, it's great to be back," he told the big crowd after his first match at Melbourne Park since his epic five-set win over Rafael Nadal in last year's final. "I have great memories."
David Ferrer, who took the No. 4 seed when fellow Spaniard Nadal withdrew because of illness and injury, had only a couple of hundred people watching in cavernous Hisense Arena on Day 1. He opened with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Olivier Rochus of Belgium.
Ferrer knows that without his compatriot in the draw, there's a semifinal spot up for grabs, but he's content to stay under the radar.
"Of course, Novak, Roger and Rafael and Murray -- they've won Grand Slams," he said. "It's very difficult for (another) player to win the first Grand Slam of his career. For me, I am trying to do my best."
The majors in 2012 were shared by Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer and Murray, the dominant four men in recent years.
Djokovic doesn't have another Grand Slam winner in his half of the draw after his Serbian Davis Cup teammate Janko Tipsarevic ousted Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt, a former U.S. Open and Wimbledon winner.
Murray is in the same half of the draw as Federer, who opened with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 victory over Benoit Paire of France.
Fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon finalist, beat American Michael Russell 6-3, 7-5, 6-3. No. 6 seed Juan Martin del Potro cruised past Adrian Mannarino of France, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, and seventh-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France defeated countryman Michael Llodra 6-4, 7-5, 6-2.
Four American men also advanced Monday, led by No. 20 Sam Querrey, the highest-ranked U.S. man in the tournament after John Isner pulled out with an injury. Querrey beat Daniel Munoz-de la Nava of Spain 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.
Bernard Tomic, who beat Djokovic at the Hopman Cup two weeks ago, defeated Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in a night match. Tomic has been on a New Year's high after winning his first ATP tournament on Saturday at the Sydney International.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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