MELBOURNE — Andy Murray looked every bit the world number one as he gave Russian teenager Andrey Rublev a lesson in grand slam tennis to reach the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 win on Wednesday.
Only a nasty tumble in the third set on Rod Laver Arena stalled Murray’s march to victory and the top-seeded Briton said the right ankle he rolled on was “a bit sore” at the end of the contest.
“I don’t know how bad it is,” said the 29-year-old. “Just normally if it’s something like severe, a serious ankle injury, you can’t put weight on your foot.
“It just a little bit stiff just now. It’s okay. I don’t think I’ve done too much damage. See in the morning how it feels when I wake up. But hopefully it will be all right.”
Five-times a losing finalist at Melbourne Park, Murray had labored through his opening round victory over Illya Marchenko in the full heat of the opening day of the tournament.
Wednesday’s performance in the evening of a much cooler day was of a far higher caliber.
The Wimbledon and Olympic champion was in clinical form, smashing 29 winners and ensuring that the 19-year-old Rublev was unable to get a single break point on his serve.
“It was better than the first match. I was hitting the ball a bit cleaner. I was hitting through the court more. More winners,” said Murray.
“I was able to get myself up to the net more. I served way better, too. That helps you and allows you to dictate more points.
“Second serve was harder than the other day. Yeah, most things were better tonight. But still think I can improve.”
Several times, he delighted the crowd with a series of deft shots that sent the Russian qualifier scurrying around the court before delivering a crunching winner that brooked no reply.
Rublev, the son of a one-time boxer, spent Tuesday sparring in a Fight Club gym and Murray, also a fight fan, suggested the teenager was not quite yet up to competing in the heavyweight division, in tennis at least.
“I think in comparison with some of the guys that are his age, physically he’s going to get stronger,” he said.
In the women’s second round, it was not always pretty, but Eugenie Bouchard took another step on the path she hopes will take her back to the top of the game with a 7-6(5), 6-2 victory over Peng Shuai.
The Canadian crowd favorite had a minor wobble midway through the first set before securing a convincing victory over her Chinese opponent, clearing the way for a contest against Pauline Parmentier or Coco Vandeweghe.
“In the first set I was pretty nervous and I felt like my legs were wood. I wasn’t moving well, I was reaching for the ball,” the 22-year-old told reporters.
“But it happens to all players and at least I was able to win ugly in the first set and then raise my level in the second. The most important thing is to battle even when it’s not going great for you, and that’s what I did.”
Bouchard’s run to the Melbourne Park semi-finals as a teenager in 2014 laid the groundwork for season where she hit the heights of the world top five.
Although her telegenic looks have ensured her profile has rarely dipped since, her ranking has, and she arrived for her fourth Melbourne Park campaign as number 47 in the world.
That did nothing to dent her popularity on an almost full Hisense Arena on Wednesday, where she had the clear support of a majority of the crowd with regular cries of “Allez Bouchard” punctuating the afternoon air.
Reaching the third round this year is already an improvement on 2016, when she was dispatched in the second round by Agnieszka Radwanska.