Andy Murray revealed his recent break from the sport had made a big difference to him as he cruised into the third round of the Madrid Masters at the expense of an outclassed Simone Bolelli.
Although Bolelli was forced to retire hurt midway through the second set of yesterday’s second round encounter, Murray had already done enough to suggest he could be in for a good week in the Spanish capital.
The world number four was 6-0, 2-1 up when Italian lucky loser Bolelli called a halt to the match with what looked like a shoulder injury, and Murray will now take on Marin Cilic for a place in the quarter-finals.
Aside from Monday’s defeat in the first round of the doubles with brother Jamie, yesterday’s match was Murray’s first competitive outing since the Davis Cup three weeks ago, and the Scot admits the time off has been good for him.
“I’ve been playing really, really well in practice the last few weeks, better than I was playing throughout this summer.
“I was hitting the ball much better,” he said.
“I had a few nerves and the conditions are tough here, not just because the ball flies around a bit more, or higher, but the breathing is different, so there was a lot to take into account.
“I was really happy with the way I served and moved.”
The Madrid Masters is the first ATP event Murray has played in since the final of the US Open, when he lost to Roger Federer.
The 21-year-old said of his time away from competitive action: “I’ve never had that in the middle of a year before when I’m playing tournaments – where I’ve had that stretch of time off at home, it was different with my wrist injury.
“I think it can make a big difference because you don’t have that opportunity too often because of the way the calendar is done with the Masters series and stuff, it made it a big difference.
“I was home for maybe four and a half weeks, so it was really nice.”
Murray will now face Cilic in the third round after the Croatian dumped out 13th seed Fernando Verdasco of Spain 6-2 6-3.
The Scot was victorious in his only previous meeting with the 20-year-old Cilic, winning an epic encounter 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 during a Davis Cup match between Great Britain and Croatia last year.