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Murray Untroubled; Seppi Holds Off Hewitt Comeback

Melbourne, Australia

Murray© Getty ImagesAndy Murray dropped just five games in his first-round win.

Andy Murray showed no signs of being anything but his best at the Australian Open on Tuesday, making short work of Japan’s Go Soeda 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 in the first round and hurrying off the scorching Melbourne court in 87 minutes. 

The third-seeded Brit returned to action at the start of the year, having undergone back surgery in September, but appeared untroubled in the contest, firing 12 aces during the match and not conceding a single break point on his serve.

In his first match against Soeda, No. 112 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, Murray dominated the rallies, working Soeda around the court and converting seven from 13 break points throughout the match, including a sizzling crosscourt forehand that saw him secure the match with a break of serve.

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"I maybe didn't expect to play as well as I did today, but the signs have been good in practice," said Murray. "I started the match off very well and did everything solid. 

"On certain shots I'm a lot freer in the movement just now. I hope that continues. That was the whole point of having the surgery. I'm hoping it was the right decision. I felt freer today than I did for the past 18 months.

"Before the match today, you're worried about the conditions, but you're also just kind of praying that everything is good with the back and you can wake up the next day and all is good." 

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A three-time Australian Open runner-up, Murray will continue his bid for a third Grand Slam title in a second-round clash against Frenchman Vincent Millot, who defeated Wayne Odesnik 7-5, 4-6, 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-3.

Andreas Seppi held his nerve to quell a bubbling Lleyton Hewitt comeback on Rod Laver Arena. The Italian saved a match point trailing 5-4 in the fifth set to oust the two-time Grand Slam champion 7-6(4), 6-3, 5-7, 5-7, 7-5 in more than four hours in in temperatures that reached 42 degrees Celsius. 

"Every Grand Slam loss is tough," said Hewitt. "There's no easy ones. Obviously if you come close to winning, even though it's a first-round match, it's still frustrating. I had to try to keep fighting, find a way. That was the only way out of it. I ended up one point from coming back from two sets."

Little separated the two men, with seven breaks apiece in the match and lengthy rallies the norm in the challenging conditions. Hewitt, yet to lose a match this year after winning the Brisbane International (d. Federer), seemed set for another famed comeback after returning from a two-set deficit to break the Italian’s serve and secure a fifth set.

The 24th-seeded Italian won three less points than the Australian during the match, but edged Hewitt in the crucial moments to clinch the match. Having dropped a 4-2 lead in the fifth set, Seppi saved the match point in the 10th game with an ace out wide and subsequently took advantage of the Hewitt second serve to secure the decisive break, before serving out the match to love.

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