PARIS (AFP) - World number one Andy Murray rejected suggestions that the absence of Ivan Lendl was behind his slump in form after reaching the French Open second round.
Former three-time Roland Garros champion Lendl was back in Murray's players' box for the first time since the Australian Open during Tuesday's (May 30) victory over Andrey Kuznetsov.
Top seed Murray, who lost last year's final against Novak Djokovic, recovered from a second-set slip to beat his Russian opponent 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 6-0.
"It was a decent start, considering obviously how I played in the buildup," said Murray, who suffered early clay-court exits in Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome.
"It definitely got better as it went on. Started to move a bit better towards the end. Was hitting the ball better when I was defending. That's something the last few weeks I haven't done so well and didn't start off the match doing particularly well."
The Scot has struggled for consistency since supplanting Djokovic at the top of the rankings following his Paris Masters triumph last November.
Murray's fourth-round loss to Mischa Zverev at the Australian Open represented his earliest Grand Slam exit since the 2010 US Open.
He responded by lifting the trophy in Dubai, but since then has suffered a serious of premature defeats outside of his run to the Barcelona semi-finals.
"If things aren't going well, people will try and find the reason for why that is, you know, and blame Ivan or whatever it is, an injury or that I'm not motivated or whatever. That's what happens," said Murray.
"But for me, I don't think that it's anything to do with Ivan not being there.
"Last year after Wimbledon, I saw Ivan at the US Open, which was - I was there two weeks, really. But from Wimbledon through until the World Tour Finals, I only spent those two weeks with him.
"And I had the best, pretty much the best period of my career, and no one mentioned Ivan not being around."
After needing five sets to outlast Radek Stepanek in last year's opening round, Murray's progression was far more serene this time barring a second set in which he dropped serve three times.
Murray will face Martin Klizan for a place in the last 32 after the Slovak prevailed in a tense five-setter against French wild card Laurent Lokoli.
The latter refused a post-match hand shake with Klizan and accused his opponent of faking injury.
"He has a lot of talent. He can hit a big ball. He is quite unpredictable on the court," said Murray, who beat Klizan in three sets in their only previous meeting in Vienna last season.
"He plays a lot of dropshots and quite unorthodox sort of shot selection, so it can be difficult to prepare for that. Obviously I saw a few videos of his match today. It was obviously a pretty entertaining match."