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Murray Survives Scare; Dimitrov Sinks Raonic

Brisbane, Australia

Hewitt, Istomin© AFP/Getty ImagesDenis Istomin (right) upset home hope Lleyton Hewitt.

Top seed and defending champion Andy Murray survived a scare against World No. 199 John Millman on Thursday in his first match of the 2013 ATP World Tour season. The Scot rallied from the loss of the second set to defeat Australian qualifier Millman 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 and reach the Brisbane International quarter-finals.

After a strong start, Murray rallied from 3-5 down in the second set, but could not deny Millman on the 23 year old’s second opportunity to claim the set. In the decider, Murray converted his only break point to prevail in just over two hours on Pat Rafter Arena.

"I think it was a pretty high quality match," said Murray. "The first set wasn't that comfortable. [In the second set] he gained in confidence and started going for his shots more.  He was returning my first serve extremely well and playing right up on the baseline and just going for big shots. It was tough for me to dictate too many of the points. I made some adjustments with the way I was serving in the third set that turned it around, but he played really, really well for the most part. 

"I wasn't too disappointed with the way I played tonight either, so it was a good first match for me. For a first match of the year, that was a perfect match in many ways to go through some tough moments, a lot of long rallies, close games, and important points."

The 25-year-old Murray captured the Brisbane trophy with victory over Alexandr Dolgopolov in last year’s final. The Dunblane native went onto have a career-best season, winning his first Grand Slam title at the US Open (d. Djokovic) and the singles gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics (d. Federer).

Next up for Murray is Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin, who beat former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt 7-5, 7-5. The 26-year-old Istomin won 82 per cent of points behind his first serve and capitalised on three of his 12 break points to beat home favourite Hewitt in one hour and 45 minutes.

"I just didn't take my chances. Should have been up an early break in the first and the second sets," said Hewitt. "I just tried scrapping around to hang in as long as I could, but it was just one of those days. Two matches has been an absolute bonus this week, but it would have been nice to have a few more."

Video courtesy Tennis Australia. Visit the official tournament website

Second seed and World No. 13 Milos Raonic will look to sharpen his return game ahead of the Australian Open after failing to win a point on the first serve of Grigor Dimitrov during an opening-round loss on his Brisbane debut.

Raonic conceded just three points on his own first serve but was unable to put pressure on the Bulgarian's first serve. Dimitrov, No. 48 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, won all 26 of his first-serve points en route to a 6-3, 6-4 win.

Dimitrov advances to play No. 7-seeded Austrian Jurgen Melzer, who defeated Belgian David Goffin 6-4, 7-6(4). The 31-year-old Melzer edged Goffin in 87 minutes, winning just five points more and converting one of his four break point chances. The left-hander had won just one match in three previous visits to Brisbane and will now look to reach the semi-finals by avenging the defeat he suffered to Dimitrov two months ago at the BNP Paribas Masters.

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