Andy Murray progressed into the third round of the 2014 Australian Open with an underwhelming performance against Vincent Millot on Thursday, Jan. 16, as reported by the competition's official Twitter account:
The match started easily enough for Murray, who immediately broke his opponent in the opening game. Millot hit a duo of unforced errors and, after the Frenchman grabbed his first point with a simple smash, Murray capitalised to take an early lead.
Millot's struggles continued throughout the set, although he did snatch a break of his own when Murray found the net shortly after serving a double-fault. Nevertheless, Murray's second gear was proving more than enough, and he quickly confirmed the first set with an ace.
The British star again secured an early break in the second set at 2-1, but Millot's overall play began to improve. He appeared to overcome a nervy start and secured his second game of the set with a wonderful forehand down the line.
Murray—despite a lethargic approach—still had too much class. He was the authority in the match and eased his way to the second set, but there was still plenty of fight left in his opponent.
Will Andy Murray beat Feliciano Lopez in the third round?
Millot gave himself a path back into the encounter when an unforced error from Murray saw the 27-year-old break at 3-1 in the third.
The underdog then hit an ace to move to game point in the next, and he cemented a commanding 4-1 lead with another dazzling forehand down the line.
Murray was promptly broken again when he plunged the ball into the net once more, but at 5-1 Millot completely fell apart. Despite calling on the crowd for support, he gave away two breaks to let Murray back into the set.
Showing any sign of complacency against top-class players can often prove decisive, and after enjoying a spell of exciting play, Millot's chances were gone.
Murray drummed up three match points and took the final game to love, securing his progression into the next round after Millot overshot from the baseline. The Frenchman's sudden downfall was complete, as noted by Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times:
Down 1-5 in third, Andy Murray wins *TWENTY-THREE* straight pts to beat Millot 6-2, 6-2, 7-5. Absurd. Nearly a virtual golden set. #AusOpen— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 16, 2014
Based on this performance, a fourth Australian Open final looks unlikely for Murray, who knows his chances are limited after recently undergoing back surgery, per BBC Sport.
Blazing conditions in Melbourne may also have played a part in his lack of intensity. Murray commented on conditions after the match, as reported by Stuart Fraser of the Daily Mail:
Coming from Scotland it's not easy. We're not used to this so it's tough. It was very humid tonight, the conditions changed a lot as it started raining earlier. Hopefully it's cooled down now and we are down to an acceptable temperature.
The Scottish player hit 25 winners, five aces and 31 unforced errors during the clash, per the tournament's official website. Millot racked up 22 winners, a duo of aces and 55 unforced errors in a mistake-ridden showing from both players.
Murray moves on to face Feliciano Lopez in the next round after the Spaniard beat Michael Berrer 6-4, 7-6, 6-4.