Murray off to fine start in Valencia title defence

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The Independent Online

Andy Murray recorded an impressive straight-sets win over Feliciano Lopez in the first round of the Valencia Open yesterday. Lopez, the world No 31, was playing on home soil and represented a tough opening opponent for the British No 1, but the defending champion eased through the first set after breaking the Spaniard's second service game.

The second set proved tougher and Murray had to come from a break down and also saved two set points before cruising through a tie-break to win 6-3, 7-6. Murray quickly applied pressure in the tie-break by winning two points on his opponent's serve and added both on his own to set up five match points – he needed only one, dispatching a Lopez second serve to end the match in 86 minutes.

Murray had started off in erratic form, racing to 40-0 in his first two service games but then needing all three opportunities to serve out in both games. In between, Lopez held serve to love – indeed, it took Murray seven attempts to win a point on the Spaniard's serve, but once he managed it he took the following three points to break and lead 3-1.

A love service game – thanks to his first two aces of the day – and a straightforward hold took him to 5-2 and then the first set in half an hour, producing five aces in all.

Lopez stepped up a gear in the second set and broke Murray to lead 3-1 but neededall the home crowd's encouragement to hold serve in the next after the Scot responded by forcing him to deuce. The top seed dug deep on his serve and broke back to make it 4-4 but had to save two set points when serving at 5-4 down before levelling once more at 6-6.

Lopez then held to love to leave Murray serving to stay in the set once more, which he did to force a tie-break, but the Scot was in no mood to delay any longer. Murray could be in for a tiring time in Valencia as he has also entered the doubles competition with his brother Jamie.