/ Tennis

Andy Murray pays tribute to friend Elena Baltacha

Updated: Thursday, 08 May 2014 08:05 | Comments

Andy Murray meets Colombia's Santiago Giraldo in the next round
Andy Murray meets Colombia's Santiago Giraldo in the next round

Andy Murray has paid tribute to family friend Elena Baltacha, who died of liver cancer on Sunday.

The Scot signed a camera with the word 'Bally' and a heart after his 6-1 1-6 6-4 victory over Nicolas Almagro in the second round of Mutua Madrid Open on Wednesday.

Murray had known Baltacha since they were part of the same Scottish team as juniors and his mother Judy remained close friends with the former British women's number one.

"It's been a tough 10 days or so," he told reporters in the Spanish capital. 

"I kind of had an idea what was going on with Elena because my mum is obviously very close with her and her husband."

He added in national newspapers: "It does make you think about things and you do realise how lucky you are, and that the most important thing is your health.

"The more time that passes the more people will celebrate everything that Bally did because she was a great character, a great person, she got everything she could out of her potential.

"Everyone wants to be Wimbledon champion and to be number one in the world but not everyone can have that. The best thing you can do is achieve your potential and I believe she did that. That's a big credit to her.

"It's something that every single day you're going to think about. But it's just tough for everyone today. I just wanted to try to go out and play and win, and try to enjoy it. Right now is not easy."

Murray, who joined fellow players by honouring Baltacha with a minute's silence in Madrid on Monday, made the gesture after coming through a tough test against Almagro to begin his clay-court campaign.

"I hung in and got the job done. It's what I needed to do," he said.

"He's a very tough guy to beat on this surface. He was certainly moving a lot better at the end of the match and hitting the ball a lot bigger than he was at the beginning.

"So that was a good one for me to come through. Winning is normally the only thing that matters in sport."

Murray, who had a first-round bye, raced into a 5-0 lead at the start of the match with Almagro only just avoiding a love set.
When he broke serve at the start of the second the tie looked a formality, but Almagro won six games in a row to send it to a deciding set.

Murray had to save three break points in the third game of the final set, while Almagro did not drop a point on serve until the eighth game, but the Scot dug deep and took his chance when his opponent served to stay in the match.

It was Murray's first win over a Spaniard on clay since beating Tommy Robredo here in 2009 and arguably one of the best of his career on the red stuff.

The British number one, who is still searching for a coach to replace Ivan Lendl, next meets Colombia's Santiago Giraldo.

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