Murray return halted by rain

Andy Murray (AFP)
Andy Murray (AFP)

London - Andy Murray endured a frustrating return from injury as rain ruined his second round match against France's Nicolas Mahut at Queen's Club on Wednesday.

Murray, a two-time Queen's champion, missed the recent French Open after aggravating a recurring lower back injury during a Rome Masters match against Marcel Granollers in May.

This was the world number two's first competitive action since then and he showed few signs of rust as he took the first set 6-3.

But the dark clouds hanging over the west London venue soon gave way to persistent showers and Murray was forced off court three times at the start of the second set.

Murray was understandably keen not to risk injury with Wimbledon looming and the US Open champion made it clear he wanted to come off when a downpour triggered a third interruption with the score level at 2-2.

The 26-year-old had suffered a shock defeat against Mahut at the same stage of the pre-Wimbledon warm-up event 12 months ago.

But, with no sign of the rain ending, play was abandoned for the day at 19:35 (SA time), meaning Murray will have to return on Thursday to finish his revenge mission against Mahut.

If he wins he is likely to have to play a second game on Thursday against Australia's Marinko Matosevic, who received a walkover into the last 16 after his scheduled opponent French veteran Michael Llodra pulled out with a hamstring injury.

Earlier, Lleyton Hewitt admitted he was glad to put a smile back on the face of Australian sport with an impressive 6-4, 6-3 second round win over Bulgarian 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov.

Hewitt awoke to news that Australia cricketer David Warner had been dropped for his country's Champions Trophy match against New Zealand after reports he had made an "unprovoked physical attack" on England star Joe Root in a Birmingham bar on Sunday.

Warner's clash with Root came just hours after Australia were beaten by England in the Champions Trophy, a defeat that fuelled the growing belief that the Australians are in danger of being humiliated by their arch rivals in the forthcoming Ashes series.

Against that backdrop of strife, Australia's sporting public needed a lift and Hewitt delivered as he rolled back the years to rout world number 28 Dimitrov and reach the last 16.

"I don't know about Warner, but obviously leading into the Ashes, so everyone's mind is hard," Hewitt said.

"I wouldn't write our boys off. I know (Australia captain) Michael Clarke pretty well, and he will be looking forward to it."

World number 82 Hewitt, a four-time Queen's champion, next faces a last 16 clash against American sixth seed Sam Querrey.

Czech second seed Tomas Berdych, a 6-1, 6-4 winner against Holland's Thiemo De Bakker, revealed he has become so addicted to Twitter he would consider tweeting live from the court.

World number six Berdych, who next faces Slovenia's Grega Zemlja, said: "I think it could be pretty good fun. Let's say if there are some exhibitions during the year and then if they allowed you. Maybe there's going to be some tweets from the court."

Defending champion Marin Cilic, who won the title in bizarre circumstances when David Nalbandian was disqualified during the final for kicking a line-judge, started his bid to retain the trophy with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over fellow Croat Ivan Dodig.

British wildcard Daniel Evans set up a last 16 clash with former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro after clinching a surprise 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4 win over 13th seed Jarkko Nieminen of Finland.

Results from the third day of the ATP tournament at Queen's Club (x denotes seeding):

Second round:
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) bt Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x10) 6-4, 6-3
Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR x7) bt Santiago Giraldo (COL) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
Daniel Evans (GBR) bt Jarkko Nieminen (FIN x13) 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4
Tomas Berdych (CZE x2) bt Thiemo De Bakker (NED) 6-1, 6-4
Grega Zemlja (SLO x16) bt Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) 7-5, 6-4
Kenny De Schepper (FRA) bt Rohan Bopanna (IND) 6-4, 6-3
Marin Cilic (CRO x5) bt Ivan Dodig (CRO) 6-3, 6-4
Benjamin Becker (GER) bt Lukas Rosol (CZE x12) 7-6 (7/2), 7-5

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