Inspired force

Our man at Melbourne Park, Tim Clement, believes positivity will be flowing through Andy Murray as he heads into the Australian Open second round

By Tim Clement - Twitter: @SkyTimClement.   Last Updated: 15/01/14 9:34am

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Andy Murray: Faces 267th ranked Vincent Millot in the Australian Open second round

Andy Murray: Faces 267th ranked Vincent Millot in the Australian Open second round

Sky Bet

Andy Murray need not look far for inspiration ahead of his Australian Open second-round match after seeing close friend Ross Hutchins enjoy a winning return to Grand Slam action on Tuesday.

While the conditions made it impossible for him to watch court-side, the Scot was undoubtedly closely following as Hutchins and his partner Colin Fleming battled back from a set down to see off Marinko Matosevic and Michael Przysiezny 4-6 6-4 6-0.

It caps a remarkable journey for Hutchins, who little over a year ago checked himself in for chemotherapy after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Albeit to a far lesser extent, Murray has overcome his own physical problems of late, after undergoing back surgery at the end of last year.

Having witnessed what must have been unthinkable 12 months back for Hutchins, optimism is surely flowing through Murray, especially given the nature of his own return to major action.

The 26-year-old even surprised himself by the commanding nature of his 6-1 6-1 6-3 victory over Go Soeda, with the full repertoire of his strokes available and the discomfort which troubled his previous 18 months now gone.

Given the success achieved during that period, it must be an exciting time to be on court and you have to worry for his next opponent - 267th ranked Vincent Millot.

The 27-year-old is making his first appearance in the second round of a major and failed to even qualify for a top-tier event in 2013.

Like Murray, we won't go into his other potential opponent, Wayne Odesnik, but it's fair to say the Wimbledon champion spoke for the majority of the locker room by saying he was "glad he (Millot) won".

Talk of the press

Elsewhere, a topic which is unlikely to evoke much sympathy back in Britain has dominated the headlines, with the relentless heat failing to convince officials to halt play.

With a ball boy and a player fainting and another being sick on court on Tuesday, plenty raised concerns over the dangers of playing in temperatures in excess of 42c.

Fortunately the were no serious casualties but the debate rages on as to whether the lack of a life-threatening case is justification for putting players, fans and officials at risk.

The conditions have certainly taken their toll on attendances with 35,577 and 32,911 turning up for the day sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, compared to 47,491 on Monday, where we had highs of a mere 35c.

The other interesting stat doing the rounds was a Grand Slam record of nine first-round withdrawals due to injury, although no player cited heat as the reason for retirement.

The Australian back pages were also dominated by Bernard Tomic's retirement after losing the first set to Rafael Nadal.

It was remarkable to hear the main home hope booed in the Rod Laver Arena and it prompted the 21-year-old to call an additional press conference on Wednesday.

Tomic was clearly hampered throughout against the world No 1 and insisted, with a reassertion from his physio, that playing on with the slight tear suffered in practice could have sidelined him for up to four months.

Unfavourable comparisons with Leyton Hewitt, who at 32 went the distance from two sets down earlier in the day, left him feeling unfairly treated but his PR officer might be advising against being photographed in any nightclubs over the next few weeks.


Once again it's a day where all the top seeds should cruise through and you can more than double your money by backing Murray, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep, who has been thoroughly impressive over the last through months and is a dark horse for the women's title, to all win in straight sets.

I was also impressed by Stefanie Voegele in her straight-sets victory over talented 20-year-old Kristina Mladenovic and she is a decent price to oust the inconsistent Dominika Cibulkova.

Follow Tim's tips and Sky Sports pundit Barry Cowan's charity bets at Sky Bet here.

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