Perth: A jet-lagged Andy Murray won his opening match of the year on Monday but it was not enough to prevent Britain from losing 2-1 to Italy in their opening match of the Hopman Cup mixed team event in Perth.
The world number four, who only arrived on Saturday, levelled the match by beating Potito Starace 7-5 6-1 after French Open champion Francesca Schiavone had beaten Laura Robson 7-5 6-3.
However, he and Robson were then edged out 6-7 7-6 10-2 in the deciding mixed doubles.
“It was a very long first day of the year,” Murray admitted. “It’s disappointing we didn’t win but hopefully we can come through in the next one.”
Britain now face an uphill struggle if they are to match their run to the final of 12 months ago.
Murray found it hard going in the hot and humid conditions inside the Burswood Dome but after a slow start, he was too strong for world number 47 Starace.
The Scot saved a break point in the third game but soon settled and after breaking once to win the first set, he opened his shoulders in the second to cruise to victory.
“I was breathing so hard after the first, four or five games,” Murray said. “I only arrived on Saturday afternoon so there’s not been a whole lot of time to get over jet-lag yet. It’s going to take some time to get used to the conditions.”
The 16-year-old Robson had been struggling with a cold in the build-up to the match but produced an impressive performance against world number seven Schiavone.
When Robson broke to lead 5-3 a shock seemed possible but Schiavone won seven straight games to take control and held off a spirited fightback from Robson to clinch victory.
Murray and Robson looked on course for victory in the mixed doubles when they broke to lead 4-3 in the second set but as Murray tired, the Italians hit back to level the match and then take the deciding match tiebreak 10-2.
Kazakhstan’s chances of progressing from the other round-robin group were hit by the withdrawal of Yaroslava Shvedova with a right knee injury. She will be replaced by world number 140 Sesil Karatantcheva.
We're building him (RvP) up now because of the World Cup. It’s a pity but we have to or he’ll never be fit.
Louis van Gaal