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Murray gets clay court season off to winning start

ESPN staff
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Andy Murray was made to work by Nicolas Almagro © Getty Images
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Andy Murray got his clay court season off to a near-perfect start with victory over Nicolas Almagro at the Madrid Open.

The British No.1, who had a first-round bye, had to cling on in the deciding set on his way to a 6-1 1-6 6-4 victory over the Spaniard, ranked 24 in the world.

It was a difficult draw for the Wimbledon champion, playing his first match in a month against a dangerous clay player who two weeks ago ended Rafael Nadal's 11-year unbeaten streak at the Barcelona Open.

Nadal breezes into third round

Rafael Nadal made light work of Juan Monaco © Getty Images
  • Rafael Nadal cruised over the opening hurdle in his Madrid Open title defence, defeating Juan Monaco in straight sets.
  • Nadal's victory moves the world No.1 up to 11th in the list of all-time wins in the Open era with 684. The Spaniard had started the match level with Arthur Ashe and is now just 29 behind Boris Becker in tenth position.
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But Almagro is also erratic and, struggling with a foot injury, offered little in the first set. Murray raced into a 5-0 lead, looking sharp after a clay court training camp in Valencia, and Almagro had to dig deep just to avoid a love set.

Murray broke serve again at the start of the second and looked en route to a comfortable victory, but Almagro gained a foothold with a break back and suddenly the match turned as the 28-year-old won six games on the spin to take the second set.

Murray saved three break points in the third game of the decider and, although Almagro did not drop a point on serve until the eighth game of the set, Murray kept his nose in front and took his chance when his opponent served to stay in the match.

The victory is Murray's first win over a Spaniard on clay since beating Tommy Robredo in this tournament in 2009.

Murray will face Santiago Giraldo in the third round after the Colombian qualifier saw off the woefully out-of-form Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 6-3 in just one hour and nine minutes.

There was not such good news for Murray's brother Jamie, however, after he and Australian partner John Peers were knocked out of the doubles by Polish pair Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski.

Murray and Peers, who lifted the BMW Open title in Munich just three days ago, went down 6-2 3-6 6-10.

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