Madrid: Andy Murray comfortably beat Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3 6-2 in his first match at the Barcelona Open on Tuesday to book his place in the last 16.
The second seeded world number four, who reached the quarter-finals in Monte Carlo last week, took an hour and 18 minutes to see off Stakhovsky without dropping serve. "It was a good test, a good start to the tournament," Murray told reporters. "I though I was hitting the ball well and I played better as the match went on. It is going to be very difficult to spring a surprise here though, because all the best Spanish players are here.
"Rafa Nadal is favourite, but Fernando Verdasco, David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro are also very tough to beat on clay." The 24-year-old Briton, who has many links with Barcelona having trained there as a teenager, will play either Santiago Giraldo of Colombia or Dutchman Robin Haase in the next round on Thursday.
Murray comfortably beat Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3 6-2, while Verdasco defeated Belgian Steve Darcis 6-3 6-1.
Verdasco, the 2010 Barcelona champion, also reached the last 16 with a 6-3 6-1 victory over Belgian Steve Darcis and sixth seed Almagro beat Eduoard Roger-Vasselin of France 7-5 7-6. World number two and top seed Nadal starts the defence of his title against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez on Wednesday.