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Murray Beats Karlovic To Begin Title Defence

Tokyo, Japan

Murray, Karlovic© Getty ImagesAndy Murray improved to a 5-0 record against Ivo Karlovic.

World No. 3 Andy Murray opened his Tokyo title defence on Tuesday at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships with a 7-6(7), 6-4 first-round victory over lucky loser Ivo Karlovic. Murray is undefeated in his five clashes with the 6’ 10’’ Croat.

Playing his first match since lifting his first major trophy at the US Open, top-seeded Murray won 50 of his 59 service points. He converted the lone break in the final game of the encounter on his sixth break point chance to clinch the win in one hour and 38 minutes.

Murray is aiming to win his fourth crown of the season. In addition to his victory at Flushing Meadows, the Scot won the London 2012 Olympics and began the year by capturing the Brisbane title. He improved his record in 2012 to a 48-11 mark. Murray will face Lukas Lacko in the second round.

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Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis edged qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky 7-6(3), 7-5 to win his opener. Baghdatis is bidding to win back-to-back matches for the first time since the London 2012 Olympics, where he fell to eventual champion Murray in the third round. The 27-year-old Baghdatis reached the Tokyo quarter-finals on his debut in 2005.

Alejandro Falla eased past Thomaz Bellucci 7-5, 6-2 in 84 minutes to end a three-match losing streak against the Brazilian. Falla converted six of his 16 break points to set a second-round meeting with second seed and 2008 titlist Tomas Berdych.

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