Victorious Andy Murray is keen to raise the bar
Andy Murray secured his place in the third round of the Madrid Open with a 6-4 6-3 win over Marius Copil. The World No.1, who is continuing his return from an elbow injury after reaching the semi-finals in Barcelona, eventually forced a late break in a tense opening set before his superior power came through against the 26-year-old Romanian.
Copil, who will move into the top 100 next week, had initially put up some strong resistance, having saved two break point chances on his opening service game.
With both players holding, Murray went ahead at 5-4, which put more pressure on the Romanian.
The Scot did not let his chance slip, forcing Copil into a long return from the corner before another fine passing shot from Murray brought up a set point.
Copil put a return into the net as Murray claimed the first set in 47 minutes.
Despite the momentum now being against him, Copil continued to find his range, holding a testing fourth game having squandered a 40-0 lead to level at 2-2 on serve.
Murray, though, upped the tempo, forcing another deuce on Copil's next service game that saw a double fault followed by a break chance, which this time he claimed when the Romanian's backhand was long.
The British No.1, also set to play in Rome ahead of the French Open, soon moved 5-2 up with a straightforward hold which left Copil serving to save the match.
However, Murray, who will turn 30 next week, was forced to wait until the next game after another brave response.
Murray, though, made no mistake on his serve, forcing Copil into errors to complete his straight-sets win in one hour and 24 minutes.
Murray was happy enough with his work-out, but believes there is room for improvement.
"When I started to control the points more towards the end of the first set and second set I was hitting the ball pretty clean, creating a few chances. I didn't give him any opportunities. It was good for the first match," Murray said.
"I still think there's a way to go. I don't think I'm playing perfectly just now.
"I think there's just things I can definitely do better, but the most positive thing is that I feel like I can serve a little bit better."
Murray will next meet Borna Coric or French qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova is to be offered a wild card into the Aegon Classic in Birmingham next month.
The Russian had no ranking on her return from a 15-month doping ban and is currently relying on wild cards for entry into WTA Tour events.
The Aegon Classic is a major Wimbledon warm-up tournament, and it has been reported that one of the wild cards will be offered to Sharapova.
She won the tournament in 2004 and 2005, but has not played at Edgbaston Priory since losing to Li Na in the 2010 final.