Appearances can be deceiving but mostly there are not.
A lightly grilled audience in the Rod Laver Arena witnessed the evidence of that when the grooved and muscled tennis machine that is Andy Murray methodically deconstructed his opponent, Robin Haase, a slim and ambitious contender from the old school, to advance to the second round of the Australian Open.
They were born within a month of each other, in 1987, and each stands 6ft 3in, armed with enough talent to win any rally, but not, in the Dutchman's case, necessarily any match. Murray outweighs Haase by a stone, all of it pure power, and that is one reason the Scot resides on a different part of Planet Tennis: in many of his matches he is a lion among lambs.
He arrived in Australian fresh from a prolonged winter training camp in Florida; Haase, who does not have those resources, turned up having won just one of his past 10 matches.
After an hour and 37 minutes the world No 3 had crushed the world No 53 6-1, 6-1, 6-3. It was an entertaining workout, with plenty of lovely shots on both sides of the net, the concluding ones invariably delivered by Murray.
"It was a good start," Murray said. "Nice to win in straight sets. It took a little while to get used to the breeze. I've come close here a few times, so to finally get a slam [in New York] was great and I'll try to focus on the second part of my career now."
Asked about what seems to be an ideal relationship with his coach of 12 months, Ivan Lendl, Murray joked, "Yeah, in front of the cameras, anyway. He works me very hard. He's very honest, very open."
Haase, with a whipping one-handed backhand and equal facility to crunch top-spun winners on the other wing, was as pleasing on the eye as Murray was physically imposing, his double-fisted ground strokes full of mechanical menace.
Haase's recent results constitute a poor return for a clearly talented player who does not seem to have tamed his urge to play big points all the time. It is fine to trust your talent, more important to know how much you have – especially if your opponent is soaking it up and giving it back with interest. That is a dividing line on the tour: those who get desperate and those who get the job done. Memories of his fighting five-set loss to Murray at the 2011 US Open were just that on this Tuesday in Melbourne.
It was the perfunctory that took first blood over the ambitious, as Murray (who'd just missed a miracle running forehand around the post) forced the Dutchman to hit long at the end of a brief rally in the third game.
Hitting flat through a light breeze inside this blue cavern, he was getting more purchase on his shots as Haase continued to search for the killer shot with bags of over-spin and drift. If he'd watched Murray handle the howling gales of Flushing Meadows last summer he might have taken a different tack, so to speak. This was more a teasing shudder of occasional wind than a hurricane, but it never the less required management.
Trailing 1-4, Haase lifted his game appreciably. Murray had to save four break points, the first with a carefully modulated pressure rally, followed by two sublime aces, one up the middle, then wide on the backhand side, before grinding his opponent into errors in his old-fashioned way to lead 5-1 after 27 minutes.
Murray lost focus with the set in his pocket and, after Haase held, the US Open champion double-faulted and handed him hope with a shot from the baseline that dropped softly into the net for 5-3, before serving out in 41 minutes.
It was a little longer than he might have wished 20 minutes earlier, workmanlike rather than dazzling tennis, which one could gauge from the polite rather than raucous applause that greeted each winner.
The first crack in the second set came in the fourth game when Murray drew Haase to the net and there seized on his inability to handle spin-laden shots from mid-court that all but kissed the cord. Haase shook his curly locks in frustration as volley after volley billowed the net.
Murray was coasting on the hour, a set and 4-1 up, master of his own destiny, destroyer of Haase's. There were shards of magic from the Dutchman, but his forearm weakened in sync with his spirit and Murray's march to victory was unstoppable. The Haase curls shook after nearly every exchange now, like a teenager who realised he'd wandered into a conversation with grown-ups.
He continued to fight, however, trusting that talent, hoping for something unlikely to unfold, knowing it probably wouldn't. In the third and concluding session Murray put him up against the ropes and worked him over all the way to the final bell.
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