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A diamond display from Murray is a perfect start

TALK about stepping up to the plate.

Andy Murray punches away a backhand on his way to a routine victory over Donald Young, of the United States, in the opening singles rubber of the Davis Cup World Group first round at PETCO Park, San Diego, California. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Andy Murray punches away a backhand on his way to a routine victory over Donald Young, of the United States, in the opening singles rubber of the Davis Cup World Group first round at PETCO Park, San Diego, California. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

It may have been a first to see a tennis player stroll into the San Diego Padres baseball stadium and hit yellow balls rather than hard white ones, but it was a striking sight none the less.

The fact it was Andy Murray delivering some of his unplayable curveballs made it all the more welcoming for those of a British persuasion.

He wasted no time last night in giving Great Britain the perfect start in their quest for their best Davis Cup win in almost 30 years by supremely wiping the floor with the United States No.2 Donald Young 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 in just one hour and 38 minutes.

"It's important to get off to a good start," said Murray after the game. "The court is still pretty slippy but it's been raining, it's colder, there's a lot of cloud cover, so the court's obviously going to play a bit slower. The conditions being like this helped."

Murray is expected to play again today, partnering fellow Scot Colin Fleming in a doubles rubber against the all-conquering Bryan brothers, but he said: "We'll have to see about the doubles. I'll speak to the captain and the rest of the team and see what the best way forward is."

Young still seemed a bit shell-shocked as he spoke after the game. He said: "It was tough for me, he played well. It was my first time in Davis Cup, it seemed like everything was going at hyper speed.

"He showed just why he has won slams. It was an honour, though, for me to be out there. He makes it so unbelievably tough. He makes you feel uncomfortable. It's a little slippery out there for sure. If it comes down to the final rubber, I will be ready. I will be more confident."

The Wimbledon champion certainly showed his class. Typically powerful from the back of the court, his movement on what was feared to be a troublesome makeshift clay surface on the baseball diamond was at times brilliant and breathtaking in equal measure.

Young may have got the better of Murray back in 2011 when the Scot, now down to world No.6, was going through what was a normal post Australian Open funk, but that was never on the cards here.

It was as routine as it gets for Murray although captain Leon Smith knows only too well that this tie won't be won and lost with his ace in the pack. Instead, today's doubles and James Ward's rubbers, are the key encounters.

That said, Smith would have prayed for a hassle free start, which is exactly what Murray served up here. The temporary tennis stadium housed in the iconic Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres baseball team, was around three-quarters full with 4000 predominantly home supporting fans hoping for an early upset.

Could the prodigiously talented yet perennial underachiever Young cause the Wimbledon champion serious problems? The answer was an emphatic no. The 26-year-old was just too good, pressurising the American into a series of errors from which he was never able to recover.

In the blink of an eye, Murray was 5-0 up and barely breaking sweat. Young, the world No.79, simply had no answer to the Scot's power and quality. The first set lasted barely 25 minutes. Jim Courier, the US captain, was sat courtside all suited and booted. How he must have wished it was him standing at the other end of the court rather than poor old Young. The American began to find some rhythm at the start of the second set but a break for 2-1 ensured Murray remained firmly in control.

Young, who eventually ran up six double faults, had clearly been instructed by Courier to play further inside the baseline rather than inviting Murray to pass him. But his service game was falling apart and another break saw the Scot stretch even further ahead.

Much has been made of the world No.6's fitness following back surgery last September. He may not be at 100%, but he was certainly moving here with the rampaging speed and power of old.

A superb rally deep into the second set, during which Murray produced two stunning returns while producing some quite spellbinding court coverage, indicated the Scot was not being overly hampered with aches and pains.

Young, throwing caution to the wind while staring down the barrel, made the Scot sweat a touch in the third yet the chasm in class remained and a classic backhand punched down the line sealed it.

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