australian open
Australian Open 2017: Unimpressive Murray Reaches Round Two (Photo: AFP)

By Andah John with agency reports

Andy Murray has advanced to the second round of the Australian Open after a below par performance against world number 95 Illya Marchenko.

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A visibly uninspired Murray managed to edge the Ukrainian with a 7-5 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 win.

The world number one, aiming to lift his first Australian Open title after five final defeats, emerged winner in two hours 48 minutes.

The 29-year-old Wimbledon champion will next meet Russia’s Andrey Rublev.

How it went down

The Scot made a nervy start and lost the first game with three double faults and a forehand error. But he took control to serve for the set at 5-3.

However, Marchenko broke Murray again to draw level. But the Scot raised his intensity and took the set after 55 minutes.

He thereafter became frustrated in the second set, berating himself for his errors and unusually sluggish movement, as his opponent grew in confidence.

The 29-year-old Ukrainian then hit a series of powerful forehands and deft volleys to take the lead in the set.

At this point, Murray had to fight hard to force a tie-break. But again the top seed did just enough to win the set after a marathon 76 minutes in hot conditions.

The gruelling effort seemed to affect Marchenko in the third set and Murray took advantage to win it without any complications.