By Ros Satar, in Melbourne
- Andy Murray  def. Illya Marchenko 7-5 7-6(5) 6-2
- Faces Andrey Rublev [Q] in R2
- Dan Evans def. Facundo Bagnis 76(8) 6-3 6-1
- Faces 7th seed Marin Cilic in R2
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Andy Murray will look to improve on a frustrating opener, with Dan Evans joining him in the second round.
Andy Murray  def. Illya Marchenko 7-5 7-6(5) 6-2
It may have been a straight sets win but it was no picnic out there for the World No. 1 and 5-time Australian Open finalist Andy Murray in his opening match. Murray’s first serve was obviously out sunbathing as he racked up three double-faults effectively breaking himself in the opening game.
Illya Marchenko was not able to capitalise on this obvious gift but what he did do was stay toe-to-toe with Murray in the first two sets, causing the Brit to Murray almost from the off.
Murray admitted he would need to do much better, saying: “I don’t think it was the best match, to be honest. You know, the conditions there were pretty different to what we’ve been practicing. Last week’s been pretty cool. A lot of days, it’s been overcast. The temperature of the court is much cooler. When it’s like that, the ball is bouncing a bit lower, a bit easier to control the ball. I was a bit tentative because of that.
“[I] didn’t serve that well either. So you end up having to work really hard on a lot of your service games when it’s like that. It just was tough.
“I didn’t move that well. That’s how it felt anyway. But sometimes that can also be down to the conditions, as well. The ball’s flying through the air a little bit quicker, so the ball is coming onto you faster than what it was the last few days. Maybe wasn’t reacting as quickly as I would have liked.
“Maybe also nerves there first round as well. It’s maybe normal to feel a little bit slow on your feet or a bit heavy-legged in the first round.”
Murray v Andrey Rublev [Q] – First Meeting
It will be a new experience against Andrey Rublev in the second round and he will need to be a lot more solid on his serve.
He said: “I know a little bit about him. I never hit with him or played against him, but I’ve seen him play before and he goes for it. He doesn’t hold back. You know, he hits a big ball.
“I saw him play a couple of years ago at the US Open against Youzhny. I watched a bit of his match there. I thought he was very good. Clean ball-striker.”
Rublev will have none of the expectations that will follow Murray and we can expect to see him swining free much as Marchenko did, so a lot will depend on whether those opening jitters have gone for the top seed.
Prediction: Murray in three sets.
Dan Evans def, Facundo Bagnis 76(8) 6-3 6-1
For many who have followed the up and down career of Dan Evans for many years, to see him reach his first ATP final was a landmark, but perhaps nerve, the steely focus of his opponent Gilles Muller who had been 0-5 in career finals finally came good, much to the visible frustration of a racquet-smashing Evans.
It was a quick turnaround for the Brit, who had to save three set points in the opening set before taking it in a tie-break as he comfortably put away Facundo Bagnis.
Evans v Marin Cilic 
It is another first time meeting but one he might relish. Marin Cilic was taken to five sets in his opener against Jerzy Janowicz, coming from two sets down – impressive feat but it should give Evans some hope that if nothing else, he can keep the big serving Croat out there in the draining conditions.
Much like in his match against Muller, he will be facing serving bombs, and Muller effectively disrupted his ability to get into any kind of rhythm
He can also fancy his chances – his confidence should be high despite his Sydney final loss, and his aggressive play should hold him in good stead. He may not win this one but we can expect him to trouble the former US Open champion.
Prediction: Cilic in four sets
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