ROTTERDAM, Netherlands: Andy Murray rebounded nicely from his Australian Open disappointment as the Scot defeated Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 6-2 on Wednesday to reach the second round of the ATP Rotterdam World Tennis event.
The world number four who lost the Grand Slam title bid 10 days ago to Novak Djokovic, hammered the 109th-ranked Mahut to hand the Frenchman a 30th career defeat by a top 10 player.
While the Scot eased through in 93 minutes, fourth seed Stan Wawrinka had to overcome a second-set blip in which which his game went completely off the boil before finally recovering to defeat Dutchman Jesse Huta Galung 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
Even then Wawrinka needed six match points to seal victory over a player ranked a lowly 248th in the world in just over an hour-and-a-half.
“It’s never easy to start, but getting through is the most important,” said Wawrinka.
“Match conditions are always different than practise.
“But I’ve been training well and I’m pleased to have won.”
Wawrinka, ranked ninth in the world, will next play Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who beat Uzbek Denis Istomin 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.
Wawrinka won the first set in 34 minutes but struggled in the second set as he seemed to lose concentration.
But in the third set, the 2014 Australian Open winner went up a break for 3-1 and slowly regained command.
Murray, the 2009 champion at the Ahoy Stadium, was never in trouble against Mahut, whose sole victory over the Scotsman was a shock first round win on grass at Queen’s club in 2012.
“It was a high-quality match,” said the winner.
“In the second set he had a lot of chances.
“We played some long games with some very good points, it was a real contrast in styles, as he likes to come to the net whenever possible.
“It was a good match, a very high standard. The scoreline does not reflect how tough it was.”
Murray moved into a second-round match with Canadian Vasek Pospisil.
Murray made the break in the first set to lead 4-2 as 33-year-old Mahut lunged and missed a volley.
Murray then ran out the set in 33 minutes, blasting down an ace on his first set point.
The second set was one-way traffic for Murray, who broke the Frenchman three times to go 5-0 up.
But Mahut suddenly caught fire, forcing Murray to save two break points before the Scot’s fourth double-fault handed the Frenchman a first game.
Mahut pulled another game back to make it 2-5 before Murray ended the comeback moments later with an easy volley.
The last game of the evening saw Gilles Muller beat fifth seed and 2013 semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 7-6 (10/8) with each man firing 11 aces.
Muller, who beat John Isner at the Australian Open before losing in the fourth round to Djokovic, eased to victory against the talented but inconsistent Bulgarian in 85 minutes.
In other first-round results, Sergiy Stakhovsky beat Austrian Dominic Thiem 6-1, 6-3 while Italian Andreas Seppi, conqueror of Roger Federer in Melbourne, came from behind to beat Holland’s Robin Haase 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-3.