Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lawn Tennis: Murray Looks Good to Safin; Ex-Champion Says Scot Definitely in the Reckoning

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lawn Tennis: Murray Looks Good to Safin; Ex-Champion Says Scot Definitely in the Reckoning

Article excerpt

MARAT Safin insists it is still too early to pick a winner for this year's Australian Open, but he has been hugely impressed by what he seen from Andy Murray.

Safin, the champion in 2005, lost to the world number two Roger Federer in straight sets yesterday and, although he was coy when asked who he would tip to win the title, Murray was definitely in the reckoning after an unbeaten start to the year.

"He's surprised me a lot, the way he's moving and playing around the court and the way he observes the other player at the beginning of the match," said Safin.

"He's very clever and has great hands. He's one more person to consider (for the title). But it's only the third round and a little bit too early to speculate about it."

Murray arrived in Melbourne having retained his Doha crown and winning an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi.

Rather than play in one of the warm-up tournaments in Australia prior to the Open, he opted to head straight to Melbourne to practise.

He certainly would not have expected to have spent extra time on the practice courts once the tournament got under way, but when Andrei Pavel retired with a back injury 45 minutes into the British number one's opening salvo on Tuesday, that is exactly what he got.

On the plus side, it meant the 21-year-old Scot, chasing his first grand slam title, avoided draining himself in some of the hottest conditions the players have faced at the tournament so far.

His second-round win against Marcel Granollers was the final night match in Rod Laver Arena yesterday and he will be first up in the night session against Jur-gen Melzer in Hisense Arena today.

Murray has admitted he prefers a later start - as much for the crowds as the cooler conditions - and is enjoying the fact his higher profile is providing him with night matches early on.

"The atmosphere in the night matches I think is when the crowd's at its best," he said. "But I played well during the day in quick conditions. …

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