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Murray Battles For Birthday Win; Del Potro Tested

Rome, Italy

Murray© Getty ImagesAndy Murray advanced to the third round on his 25th birthday.

World No. 4 Andy Murray was made to work hard for his opening victory at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on his 25th birthday in Rome on Tuesday, overcoming David Nalbandian 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 in two hours and 37 minutes.

Murray dominated the opening exchanges and reeled off the first set as Nalbandian struggled for timing in the windy conditions. The Argentine did not hold serve until the first game of the second set, but therein settled into the match and broke Murray in the 10th game to force a decider.

Former World No. 3 Nalbandian looked set to cause an upset as he capitalised on a double fault from Murray to earn a 3-1 lead. Murray immediately hit back with a break to love, though, and his renewed aggressive tactics paid dividends in the 11th game as he gained the ultimately decisive service break on a lucky net cord. The Dunblane native was presented with a birthday cake on court following his win.

"I was a little bit fortunate at the end but I went for it so," said Murray. "Some say you make your own luck."

Murray was playing his first match since a quarter-final defeat to Milos Raonic in Barcelona three weeks ago, having been forced out of Madrid with an injury. The right-hander was a semi-finalist at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournament last year (l. to Djokovic).

Tenth seed Juan Martin del Potro was also tested in his opening match, needing three sets to defeat France’s Michael Llodra 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 in two hours and 16 minutes. The Argentine has been in strong form on the European clay, winning his second ATP World Tour title of the season in Estoril (d. Gasquet) and reaching the semi-finals in Madrid (l. to Berdych).

Fifth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga overcame a 1-3 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Viktor Troicki to secure his place in the third round. Tsonga broke serve five times as he defeated the Serbian 6-3, 6-2 in 70 minutes.The 27-year-old Tsonga improved to a 23-9 match record in 2012. The right-hander, who opened the season with victory in Doha (d. Monfils), is coming off a third-round exit in Madrid (l. to Dolgopolov).

Another Frenchman was among the winners on Tuesday as Gilles Simon, the 11th seed, opened his campaign with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over American Donald Young. The 27-year-old Simon converted four of his seven break points to wrap up victory in 85 minutes. The Nice native was a semi-finalist at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (l. to Nadal) before triumphing in Bucharest (d. Fognini). He improved to a 24-11 match record on the season.

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