Pain in the first set does not stop the Wimbledon champion from advancing to the fourth round.
Andy Murray allayed concerns over the state of his back following surgery Saturday as he stepped up his Australian Open campaign to reach the fourth round.
Murray continued his dominance of Spanish left-hander Feliciano Lopez with a 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 6-2 win in two hours 15 minutes on Hisense Arena.
The fourth seed, a three-time finalist in Melbourne, stretched his winning sequence to 8-0 over Lopez in their matches.
Murray, who had back surgery in September, briefly appeared in pain early in the first set, but he later played down concerns that he is still troubled by back pain.
“It’s pretty good so far. I’ve recovered well after the matches. From time to time a bit of stiffness and soreness, but for the most part it’s been good,” he said.
“It’s better than it was. You normally are going to get some stiffness and stuff in an area where you’ve had surgery. It takes a bit of time for that to go away.”
Murray, who has lost twice to Novak Djokovic and once to Roger Federer in Australian finals, will now face French lucky loser Stephane Robert in the round of 16.
“Today was a big step up for me. Feliciano is a top-30 player. He’s a tricky opponent to play,” Murray said.
“I know I have a good record against him, but it doesn’t change the fact he’s not an easy guy to play against. Very different type of opponent to what you normally face.
“So it was a good test for me, and I did well.”
Once Murray won the opening set tiebreaker in 65 minutes it was all one way as the Wimbledon champion broke Lopez’s serve a total of four times to wrap up a convincing victory.
Murray was not totally on top of his game with his unforced errors edging out his number of winners 30-29.
“When you haven’t played loads of matches there’s a tendency to make poor decisions or maybe rush sometimes,” he said.
“I tried to slow myself down a bit and thankfully I came up with some good shots in the tiebreaker.
“I did well to get breaks at the beginning of the second and third sets.”
Murray said his next opponent, Robert, would be match-hardened after coming through the qualifiers.
“It’s good to see. He’s 33 years old and it could be easy to stop playing if you’re not in the top hundred or necessarily making a great living,” he said.
“But it does show if you stick at it, you’re professional, when your chance comes, you take it, you can do great things.
“Great for him. Good for tennis as well. He’s played six or seven matches already. He’ll be match-tight, that’s for sure.”