Murray plays down serving 'panic'

Andy Murray insists he is serving well enough to win his first grand slam at the Australian Open.

Andy Murray insists he is serving well enough to win his first grand slam at the Australian Open.

The fifth seed has had little reason for probing self-assessment following an opening week during which he has won all three of his matches in straight sets and with the minimum of fuss.

The Scot has marched confidently through with the air of a champion in waiting, albeit without yet having had to come up against a top-50 player.

Despite his serene progress Murray has faced daily questions regarding his first service.

The Scot’s first serve statistics would suggest there is reason for some worry as he has operated below 60% – a figure that is significantly below the pass-mark required when the bigger seeds come calling next week.

Murray, however, thinks differently as he prepares to face one of the fiercest serves in men’s tennis against the 6ft 9in John Isner in their last-16 match, which begins at midnight tonight.

“I don’t think my serve is an issue at all,” Murray said.

“Everyone is panicking about my serve. I’m happy with how it’s gone.

“It’s got better in each match, like I thought it would.

“When the important moments have come, I’ve served well. That’s the most important thing.”

Murray’s first serve percentage has improved as the tournament has gone on. After beginning with a paltry 36% in his first match against Kevin Anderson it improved to 57% against Florent Serra in the third round.

The Scot has also shown he can find his range when it counts, most in his second-round match against Marc Gicquel when at love-40 down he successfully fired down four of his next five first serves to extricate himself from the danger.

In fact, the Scot has been puzzled his return of serve has not been the focus after he has broken 21 of 40 games so far.

“I don’t know why people aren’t talking about my returns,” said Murray who will need to be at his best in that department when he faces Isner.

“I’ve been returning great. I keep getting breaks.”

There was one other moment of concern in Murray’s third-round win over Serra when he pulled up gingerly and grabbed his back during the game.

Afterwards the 22-year-old admitted his back had caused him some pain but played down any concern it might yet hinder him in Melbourne.

“No, I mean, it just hurts. Sometimes it happens on these courts,” he said.

“They’re just really sticky. It just gets a little bit stiff.

“But it was fine.”

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