Battling Andy Murray kicks off Madrid Open title defence
Andy Murray battled past veteran Radek Stepanek in three sets to get his defence of the Madrid Open off to a winning start.
The World No.2 made hard work of beating the 37-year-old from the Czech Republic, dropping the second set before sealing a 7-6 (7-3) 3-6 6-1 victory.
Three booming forehand winners gave Stepanek, ranked 148 in the world, a break of the Murray serve in the very first game.
But Murray shrugged off his sluggish start to break back in the sixth game. The Scot fended off a break point at 5-5 and took the first set in the tie-break.
Stepanek hit back with another early break to race into a 4-1 lead in the second, holding his nerve to serve out for the set and take the match to a decider.
But Murray took his tiring opponent's serve in the second and fourth games before wrapping up an unconvincing victory in two hours and 16 minutes.