Murray hits form in Melbourne after operation transformation

Andy Murray believes he is already reaping the rewards of his back surgery.

The Scot went under the knife in September after experiencing problems on and off for 18 months, particularly on clay. Murray played his first grand slam match since the operation against Go Soeda in the opening round of the Australian Open on Tuesday and was very impressive.

The 26-year-old was on court for less than 90 minutes in his 6-1 6-1 6-3 victory and struck 32 winners.

He said: “It’s not every single shot that my back hurt on before but certain shots I’m a lot freer in the movement just now. I hope that continues.

“That was the whole point of having the surgery. So if I was still in pain and stiff and sore, then I’d be a bit worried about the next few years.

“But I’m hoping it was the right decision. I felt freer [against Soeda] than I did for the last 18 months.”

Murray is a three-time finalist at Melbourne Park, most recently last year when he was beaten by Novak Djokovic. But, with only two competitive matches under his belt prior to arriving in Australia, he is having to deal with uncertainty along with the usual challenges of a grand slam.

He said: “Going through surgery is different than going through any other sort of injury or break that you have.

“A lot of players don’t come back from surgery the same player that they were before. That’s something that’s always in the back of your mind, something that will worry you a little bit and something you’ll think about.”

Murray played in the worst heat of the day on Tuesday, with temperatures soaring above 42C, so the 26-year-old will have been delighted to learn his second-round match against French qualifier Vincent Millot today will be played in the night session on Rod Laver Arena.

Feliciano Lopez, who Murray has beaten in all seven of their previous meetings, is the only seed remaining in the fourth seed’s section, and should he get past Millot and then the Spaniard, his fourth-round opponent would be one of Stephane Robert, Michal Przysiezny, Blaz Rola or Martin Klizan.

A quarter-final meeting with the likes of Roger Federer or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga would be a big step up in standard, therefore, but Murray is not worried about being undercooked. He said: “In these conditions you want to win fast... every player would want to get off the court as quick as possible.”

Djokovic was also in no mood to hang around as the great heat debate continued yesterday. Temperatures once again peaked above 40C, though not as consistently high as on Tuesday and there was more cloud cover.

Defending champion Djokovic ensured a short stay in the high temperatures by winning the first eight games on his way to a 6-0 6-4 6-4 victory over Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer.

The second seed said: “I thought yesterday was warmer than today. But still the conditions were not easy.”

In the women’s draw, world No 1 Serena Williams wasted little energy in winning her second round match 6-1 6-2 against Serbia’s Vesna Dolonc.

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