Andy Murray showed no signs of rustiness on hard courts as he began his campaign at the ATP World Tour Finals with a 6-4 6-4 victory over David Ferrer.
Murray, who needs two wins at London’s O2 Arena to finish the season ranked number two for the first time, spent the majority of the week leading up to the tournament practising on clay ahead of the Davis Cup final against Belgium next week.
He did not switch back to hard courts until Friday and thought he might struggle to time the ball in his opening match.
But, aside from one poor game at the start of the second set, he played a high-quality match, and one that will not have taken too much out of him.
Being ranked in the top two meant Murray had the relative luxury of starting against the lowest seed in his group, although no clash with the dogged Ferrer could ever be described as easy.
Murray has had the better of their head-to-head over the last 13 months, winning their four previous clashes, most recently in the semi-finals at the Paris Masters a fortnight ago.
The second seed had to save a break point in the opening game of the match but thereafter was the better player.
Ferrer fought off pressure in the fourth game and then again at 3-4.
The Spaniard was annoyed by an incorrect overrule from umpire Cedric Mourier on the first point and found himself 15-40 down.
Murray thought he had broken but Ferrer correctly challenged a baseline shot that just missed and the Spaniard again held on.
It was only a brief reprieve, though. He has struggled with his ball toss this season and an untimely double fault – he served eight in the match — handed the set to Murray.
The Scot has not lost a match in which he has won the opening set since a clash with Ferrer in Shanghai last October, so the omens were good.
He played a dreadful service game to get broken immediately at the start of the second set but won a gruelling rally to level at 3-3.
The pressure was mounting on Ferrer and again it told in the 10th game as Murray clinched his first match point with a leaping smash.
The 28-year-old will meet the winner of the clash between Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal in his second match on Wednesday, while Roger Federer can only now deny him the year-end number two ranking by winning all his matches this week.