Andy Murray defeats Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3 6-3 at Rome Masters
By James Dielhenn
Last Updated: 12/05/16 4:22pm
Andy Murray beat Mikhail Kukushkin in straight sets to mark his first match since announcing a split with coach Amelie Mauresmo.
A 6-3 6-3 victory in the second round of the Rome Masters was the smooth progression that Murray would have hoped for having confirmed that his two-year spell working with Mauresmo would end.
The British No 1 broke crucially in each set to eventually finish off his Kazakh opponent in an hour and 24 minutes to book a third-round berth.
Murray completed seven aces without reply and struck 22 winners with just 16 unforced errors as he extended his head-to-head record against Kukushkin to 3-0, without the loss of a set.
The Rome Masters has seen Murray drawn in the opposite half of the draw to top rivals Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, handing him the ideal opportunity to make the final for the first time.
His progression to the final hurdle is paramount heading into the French Open because Murray has slipped to No 3 in the world, despite losing the Madrid final to Djokovic last week, and can only reclaim his No 2 ranking with another run to the end of this tournament.
Murray will play either Roberto Bautista-Agut or Jeremy Chardy in the next round.