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Tennis: Murray blows out cobwebs on return in Tokyo

Murray appears for first time since his Grand Slam victory at Flushing Meadows

Reuters, Tuesday 2 Oct 2012
Andy Murray
Defending champion Andy Murray of Britain reacts after winning a point against Ivo Karlovic of Croatia at the Japan Open tennis championships in Tokyo October 2, 2012. Murray blew out the cobwebs with a 7-6 6-4 win over towering Karlovic on Tuesday in his first match since winning last month's U.S. Open. (Photo: REUTERS)
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Defending champion Andy Murray blew out the cobwebs with a 7-6 6-4 win over towering Croat Ivo Karlovic on Tuesday in his first match since winning last month's U.S. Open.

The Olympic gold medalist had been scheduled to face Gael Monfils in the first round of the $1.28 million hardcourt event but the Frenchman pulled out with a knee injury.

Japan's Kei Nishikori survived a fright against countryman Go Soeda, the eighth seed squeaking through 4-6 6-2 6-3 to the relief of Tokyo organizers in two hours, 29 minutes.

Murray got a workout from 2.08 meters Karlovic and was forced into a tiebreak in the first set which the Scot took 9-7 with a superb running forehand pass down the line.

A quick change of wardrobe and Murray, now in all black, waited for his moment in the second as Karlovic slammed down 18 aces, converting his third match point with a vicious backhand to the Croatian's body after one hour, 38 minutes.

Nishikori, who reached his first semi-final of the year in Kuala Lumpur last week, next plays Spaniard Tommy Robredo, a 6-2 6-4 winner over Finland's Jarkko Nieminen.

Big serving Milos Raonic hit 10 aces in a 6-4 6-4 victory over Czech Radek Stepanek, sending the Canadian through to face Serbia's Viktor Troicki.

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