Andy Murray goes from boisterous cheers to polite applause

US Open winner makes winning return in match far removed from intensity and drama of New York

Andy Murray would probably have preferred to be asleep than on court here yesterday but the world No 3 was still too good for Ivo Karlovic in his opening match at the Rakuten Japan Open. Murray, who faces Slovakia's Lukas Lacko in the second round today, beat Karlovic 7-6, 6-4 in an hour and 38 minutes in his first match since becoming US Open champion last month.

Murray, who arrived here six days ago, admitted after his late-afternoon victory: "I still haven't got over the jet lag. Every single day I've been sleeping at the time I went on the court today."

Compared with the intense atmosphere at Flushing Meadows in Murray's previous appearance on court 22 days earlier, this was a comparatively low-key affair. The steep-sided centre court at the Ariake Colosseum, an imposing concrete structure situated in the city's business district, holds 10,000 people, but it was no more than a third full.

There was polite applause throughout and appreciation for the excellence of some of Murray's passing shots, but the greatest show of passion came at the end as hordes of autograph hunters rushed to the front of the stands the moment Murray won.

Karlovic was a late replacement for France's Gaël Monfils, who pulled out with a recurrence of a knee problem. A 6ft 10in Croatian, Karlovic is not quite the force he was, but his massive serve, particularly on a fast outdoor court like the one here, always makes him a danger.

Murray, who dropped only nine points on his own serve in the whole match, had break points in the first and seventh games in the first set only for Karlovic to serve his way out of trouble. The world No 79 went 5-3 up in the tie-break but then let Murray off the hook with a double fault. Murray still had to save a set point before taking the tie-break 9-7 with a forehand pass down the line.

When Karlovic served at 4-5 in the second set, Murray appeared to decide it was time to draw matters to a close. A superb running forehand cross-court pass followed by a rasping return of serve to the Croatian's feet forced three match points. The first two were saved with thunderbolt serves, but on the third Karlovic put a volley wide under pressure from a big Murray backhand down the line.

"I played well when I needed to," Murray said. "It's always hard, the first match after a few weeks of not playing. Because of the opponent as well that makes it a bit tougher again."

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map