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Battling Andy Murray kicks off Madrid Open title defence

By Steve Simpson

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.

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