Andy Murray shrugged off any question marks over his form and fitness and declared himself satisfied to have made it through to the second week of the Australian Open.
Murray cut a frustrated figure for large parts of his third-round win over Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis this morning as he struggled to hit the heights he reached against Robin Haase and Joao Sousa in his first two matches in Melbourne.
But if it is a sign of a champion to win when not playing well then Murray is entitled to feel content with the 6-3 6-4 7-5 triumph achieved in two hours and 12 minutes.
“I have won my first three matches in straight sets,” he said. “Every player wants to hit the ball well every day if they can. But the reality is it isn’t always going to happen.
“I’m aware I’ll need to improve but you also don’t necessarily want to be playing your best tennis in the first round of a grand slam or any tournament. You want to try to improve as the matches go on.
“I’m sitting here happy that I’m through to the fourth round having not played my best tennis today. Hopefully I’ll improve for the next one.”
Murray regularly practises with Berankis which made it a surprise he seemed to be frequently caught off guard by his opponent’s shot-making. He also seemed troubled in the early stages by a shoulder problem which he later explained wore off as the match went on.
“It was just a bit stiff for my first five or six service games and in practice yesterday,” he said. “But I felt pretty much fine after the first set.”
Laura Robson’s campaign came to a disappointing end as she lost the battle of the teenagers to American Sloane Stephens.
The British number two was repeatedly treated for a shoulder issue as she went down 7-5 6-3 in one hour 49 minutes after failing to follow-up the dramatic, late-night, three-set win over eighth seed Petra Kvitova on Thursday.