Murray makes painful progress

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The Independent Online

Andy Murray survived a real scare to come from a set and a break down against unseeded Sergiy Stakhovsky and progress to the second round of the Dubai Tennis Championships this afternoon.

Four-and-a-half years after he beat the Ukrainian to win the US Open boys' title, the second seed looked like he might be heading for an early exit.

Stakhovsky, though, who needed lengthy treatment for an injury to his ankle in the first set, retired hurt a game from defeat, Murray winning 6-7 (3/7) 6-3 5-3.

The Scot himself appeared to struggle with an ankle injury late in the contest, but he was still able to grind out the win in two hours and two minutes.

Murray was quick to gain the ascendancy, bringing up three break points in the third game and taking the second of them when his opponent put a backhand into the net.

The Scot had two more break points in game five for a 4-1 lead as he looked like racing away with the set, but Stakhovsky saved both and then broke back to level at 3-3.

The Ukrainian was not on level terms for long as the British number one broke straight back, but was made to pay for his carelessness as he again dropped his serve.

Stakhovsky, on break point, worked his opponent from one side of the court to the other before cracking a forehand winner to make it 4-4.

There was a lengthy delay in the ninth game as Stakhovsky had to have his ankle iced and heavily strapped after appearing to turn it.

He returned to the court 40-15 up, winning the next point to end a run of three successive breaks of serve and go 5-4 ahead, and proved just as strong in the tie-break to take it 7-3.

Worse was to come for a clearly frustrated Murray as he dropped his serve in the opening game of the second set, but he kept his emotions under control to break right back.

Three more games followed in a row for Murray as he moved up a gear to establish a 4-1 lead on the way to taking the set.

The Scot, though, was hobbling when he went back to his chair, with his ankle also appearing to be causing him pain.

But it did not stop him from breaking in the opening game of the deciding set, Stakhovsky gifting him the game by pulling a forehand wide.

And that was enough for victory as the Ukrainian threw in the towel at 5-3 down.

Murray will play either Rainer Schuettler or Arnaud Clement, who play tomorrow afternoon, in the second round.