Murray off to solid start
Barcelona - Andy Murray continued to apply polish to his claycourt tennis as the second seed reached the third round of the Barcelona Open with a comfortable defeat of Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 6-2 on Tuesday.
Murray, playing the tournament for only the third time, secured his second career win at the Real Club de Tenis in 78 minutes.
The world No 4 now stands 4-0 over Stakhovsky, a Ukrainian journeyman ranked 68th.
Murray is working to reach the form which took him to a Roland Garros semi-final a year ago, with hopes of doing even better.
He lost a Monte Carlo quarter-final last week to Tomas Berdych, who had to withdraw from this week's competition in Spain.
The Scot ended with 16 winners and a dozen unforced errors, breaking on three of his five chances. He next plays either Santiago Giraldo of Colombia of Dutchman Robin Haase, a Monte Carlo quarter-finalist.
Murray improved to 2-3 in Barcelona and becomes the eighth player in the top 10 to register 20 match wins on the season, now standing 20-5.
Murray needed 42 minutes to wrap up the opening set, breaking Stakhovsky in the fourth game.
In the second set, the second seed found his range to take control and run out the victory on his first match point.
The 2010 champion Fernando Verdasco also won a second-round encounter after a bye, with the Spanish ninth seed defeating Belgian Steve Darcis 6-3, 6-1.
Verdasco didn't bother to defend his title in 2011 after a dispute with the organiser but is now back in the Spanish fold.
"I played well and found my comfort zone form the first game," said the winner, who broke four times. "Maybe he was a little tired.
"This is a special tournament for me. I'm back in Barcelona and I want to do my best."
In the first round, Portugal's Frederico Gil scored an upset as he took out 12th seed Marcel Granollers of Spain, 6-2, 6-2 while No 13 South African Kevin Anderson was untroubled by Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 6-2, 6-3.
Australian Bernard Tomic, seeded 15th, dominated fading Latvian Ernests Gulbis 6-3, 6-4 on to make a winning debut at the event.
Tomic, at 19 the youngest man in the field in the Catalan capital, spent 67 minutes in handing one-time prodigy Gulbis another ATP disappointment.
The two-time quarter-finalist Latvian who has faded to an 86th ranking after standing a career-best 21st just 14 months ago, went down on two breaks of serve.
Tomic, who won a round in Monte Carlo last week but lost his next match to Ukrainian talent Alexandr Dolgopolov, was pleased with a winning start in the hotbed of Spanish tennis.
"I played well from the first game," said the Australian. "I was able to play my game.
"I served well and got more comfortable on the clay," added the No 35, the youngest man in the field. "I'm moving better and feeling better. I'm playing well right now."
Six-time champion Rafael Nadal will attempt to pick up where he left off at the weekend after winning an eighth straight Monte Carlo title when he opens after a bye against compatriot Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, a winner over Olivier Rochus of Belgium 6-3, 6-3.
Results from the second day of the Barcelona Open on Tuesday (x denotes seeding):
Pablo Andujar (ESP x16) bt David Goffin (BEL) 7-6 (7/2), 6-4
Flavio Cipolla (ITA) bt Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) 6-0, 6-3
Robert Farah (COL) bt Arnau Brugues-Davi (ESP) 6-4, 7-6 (7/3)
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) bt Daniel Gimeno (ESP) 6-2, 6-3
Bernard Tomic (AUS x15) bt Ernests Gulbis (LAT) 6-3, 6-4
Kevin Anderson (RSA x13) bt Malek Jaziri (TUN) 6-2, 6-3
Frederico Gil (POR) bt Marcel Granollers (ESP x12) 6-2, 6-2
Igor Andreev (RUS) bt Diego Junqueira (ARG) 6-2, 6-3
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) bt Olivier Rochus (BEL) 6-3, 6-3
Victor Hanescu (ROM) bt Rui Machado (POR) 6-3, 7-6 (7/5)
Albert Ramos (ESP) bt Andreas Beck (GER) 4-1, retired
Fernando Verdasco (ESP x9) bt Steve Darcis (BEL) 6-3, 6-1
Nicolas Almagro (ESP x6) bt Edouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA) 7-5, 7-6 (7/3)
Andy Murray (GBR x2) bt Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) 6-3, 6-2