Valencia Open: Andy Murray rolls on to 100th indoor match-win
Andy Murray is safely through to the third round in Valencia after another straight-sets win
The last time Andy Murray played Fabio Fognini could not have brought back great memories. The match was played on a rain-sodden clay court in Italy this spring, with Murray leading Great Britain against Italy in the Davis Cup quarter-finals.
Fognini took advantage of the clay, the vociferous home crowd and a Murray who had struggled back from gastric illness just days before, to race through a straight-sets win.
But in Valencia, Murray is playing on a hard court far more to his liking, in the stunning cathedral-like modern edifice that hosts the Valencia Open. He even won the title here in 2009, the first year the tournament was held indoors.
Murray has returned for the first time since 2010, playing with a wild card in an attempt to boost his position in the Race to London, and he followed a straight-sets win over Jurgen Melzer with a straight-forward 6-2, 6-4 win over the gesticulating Fognini in just 72 minutes.
It was not the most attacking performance from the Briton, but one that revelled in what he described as good returning conditions. So while he made only 11 outright winners and won only two out of two net approaches, he did win 23 of 25 first serves, and he ended the match with two-thirds of the points and half the unforced errors of his opponent.
It was, in short, a strong performance and, appropriately enough, earned him his 100th match-win indoors.
Thus far, Murray has not improved his standings in the Race. He still stands at No8 and cannot improve on that unless he reaches the semi-finals. He will do that if he beats the No7 seed Kevin Anderson, who had a walkover to the quarters courtesy of the withdrawal of Martin Klizan.
Meanwhile, Milos Raonic, who took on Donald Young for a place in the Basel quarters, can overtake Murray if he reaches the semi-finals, since he does not already have an equivalent counting tournament in his points tally.
It will all come down to the Paris Masters, where much bigger points are on offer but where all the top players are scheduled to play. So it would be a great psychological boost, as well as points boost, to head to the French capital already holding a slight edge.
Whether that person is Raonic, Murray or David Ferrer—who Murray could face in the semis—will be determined in the next few days.