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News & Photos / Articles / Below-par Murray safely into second round

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In a hurry
Andy Murray moved into the second round of the French Open with a comfortable win over French qualifier Eric Prodon 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 on Tuesday afternoon, but there were only rare flashes of magic from the no.4 seed who gave the distinct impression that he was treating his first round match as an experimental practice session, performing at well below capacity.

The last time Murray played a match on clay was little over a week ago in the semi-final of Rome against Novak Djokovic. He may have lost but he was in scintillating form and after the match, admitted he had played his best tennis against the person he considered to be the top player in the world as the moment. Today was an altogether different affair. Opening proceedings in blustery conditions on a half-filled Suzanne Lenglen Court, Murray raced to a 4-1 lead from the off. His opponent, who at no.124 is 100 spots below him in the world rankings, was left bamboozled by the Scot's serve - he fired down 12 aces during the match - and appeared to struggle with his own forehand.

Prodon, whose only previous Grand Slam outing had been here in 2008 as a wild card, at least had the partisan crowd behind him, and it wasn't too long before Murray began to suffer momentary lapses of concentration. Loose games followed and very soon Murray had handed Prodon two break points - one courtesy of a double fault. A beautifully disguised drop-shot allowed the Frenchman to break back to 5-4, which whipped the crowd into a frenzy. But it only served to fire up a frustrated Murray who upped the ante in the very next game to break back and take the first set.

That momentum continued into the second, which Murray claimed in a mere 24 minutes, but by the third, the 24-year-old had gone back into experimental mode. If a shot failed to work, he would yell out in frustration, slamming his racket into his bag at the change of ends. The statistics were telling, with Murray hitting 25 unforced errors, just one fewer than his journeyman opponent. And while the end result was never in doubt, it raises questions about his ability to go the distance here, despite reaching the final of the first Slam of the year in Australia and also making the semi-finals at the ATP Masters 1000 events in Monte Carlo and Rome.

Speaking after the match, Murray described the encounter as 'scrappy'. "It was a tough match. There was no rhythm really. He didn't want to have any long rallies, so he was hitting a lot of dropshots, going for shots. He'd change the rhythm or change the pace of the ball a lot. I was annoyed with the way I was moving. I was hitting the ball from the back of the court, especially towards the end of the match, and served well, but didn't move particularly well. There weren't many good rallies, really, or anything, because they were all pretty short."

He added: "I was told going in he's very unpredictable, he does play a lot dropshots, changes the rhythm of the points a lot and is quite unpredictable. That's how it was. That's why it was a difficult match and just a quite frustrating one to play, because even though I was in front, all of the points were just really scrappy until the end when I went behind."

The no.4 seed now faces Italian Simone Bolelli in the second round.

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