Andy Murray began the defence of his Mutua Madrid Open title with a hard-fought 7-6 3-6 6-1 success over Radek Stepanek on Tuesday.
The world number two needed two hours and 14 minutes to dispose of the veteran Czech player at Caja Magica, as he bids to defend the title he won 12 months ago when he defeated home favourite Rafael Nadal in the final.
The 28-year-old will now face either Gilles Simon of France or Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta in the third round and he will be hoping for an easier ride than the one he go against Stepanek, who had beaten Murray the last time the two players met at Queens in 2014.
Murray admitted after the match that he had been severely tested by the 37-year-old, but he was pleased to emerge from the contest unscathed.
He said: “Not a lot of the match was played on my terms. It was very tough
The Brit has not tasted success on the ATP Tour since winning the Canadian Open in August last year, with his only final appearance of
2016 coming at the Australian Open, when he was defeated in straight sets by world number one Novak Djokovic.
The two-time Grand Slam champion will be hoping to enjoy an extended run in Madrid, in what is his penultimate tournament before the start of the French Open on May 22.
Murray has never reached the final in Paris, but he is available at 10.00 to claim overall glory at this year’s event.