Murray leads Britain to winning start at Hopman Cup
Andy Murray's 2016 season and his latest assault on the Australian Open crown got off to a strong start on Monday, as the world number two dispatched Kenny De Schepper in straight sets at the Hopman Cup, before partnering with Heather Watson to win in the mixed doubles.
Murray, in his first matches since leading Great Britain to Davis Cup glory against Belgium in November, picked up where he left off by representing his country and getting the job done at the Perth Arena in Western Australia.
De Schepper, ranked 148th in the world, was beaten 6-2 6-2 in just one hour. The Frenchman lost his serve twice in each set and was not offered so much as a break-point opportunity by the former Wimbledon and US Open champion, who will be determined to finally triumph at Melbourne's Olympic Park this month, having lost in the final four times, including to Novak Djokovic last time out.
France hit back through Caroline Garcia, who defeated Watson 6-3 5-7 6-3 to level the Group B tie at 1-1. It was Britain who came out on top, though, Murray and Watson needing a tie-break to overcome Garcia and De Schepper 6-2 5-7 10-6 in the mixed doubles.
Ukraine were the beneficiaries of Serena Williams' withdrawal from her first scheduled match of the exhibition event owing to a knee injury.
Elina Svitolina was relatively untroubled by replacement Victoria Duval, prevailing 6-4 6-1 in 62 minutes.
Duval lost her serve three times in the first set and twice in the second, while world number 19 Svitolina, having been broken twice herself in the opener, saved two break points to hold throughout the brisk second.
Alexandr Dolgopolov secured a winning start for Ukraine in Group A, as he defeated American Jack Sock 6-4 6-2.
Sock and Duval then gained a measure of revenge, earning a consolation victory in the mixed doubles by beating Dolgopolov and Svitolina 6-2 6-3.