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Top seed Andy Murray advances, Kei Nishikori pushed to limit by Andrey Kuznetsov

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The Sports Xchange
Britain's Andy Murray celebrates victory. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI
Britain's Andy Murray celebrates victory. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

No. 1 Andy Murray earned a hard-fought 7-5, 7-6(5), 6-2 victory over Illya Marchenko of Ukraine on Monday in the first round of the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia.

Murray, who has never won the Australian Open despite being a five-time finalist (2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016), made just 27 unforced errors compared with Marchenko's 62, but the Brit fell far short in winners as Marchenko had 46 compared to Murray's 25.

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Murray next faces Russian Andrey Rublev, a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(0), 6-3 winner over Taipei's Yen-Hsun Lu.

Earlier in the day, fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan was pushed to the limit in his opening match of the Australian Open, but advanced with a 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-2 victory over Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia.

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A backhand error by Nishikori gave Kuznetsov the final point of the fourth-set tiebreaker, but Nishikori took control early in the final set. Nishikori broke Kuznetsov's serve at love in the fourth game, taking a 3-1 lead with a forehand winner.

Nishikori led 4-1 and 5-2 and had a match point at 30-40 of the eighth game. He lost that opportunity my committing an unforced error on his forehand, but Kuznetsov double faulted on Nishikori's second match-point to end the match.

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Nishikori finished the match with 53 winners but also committed 52 errors in a match that lasted three hours, 34 minutes. "It wasn't easy," he said.

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American Ryan Harrison advanced to the second round with a decisive 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Nicolas Mahut of France.

Harrison took control of the match when he broke Mahut's serve in the sixth game of the first set. Harrison won that 10-point game with a forehand volley winner to grab a 4-2 lead.

The 82nd-ranked Harrison stayed in front the rest of the way, finishing the match when the 41st-ranked Mahut made the last of his 33 unforced error on Harrison's first match-point opportunity.

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Jeremy Chardy of France became the first player to advance to the second round when Nicolas Almagro retired from their first-round match with Chardy leading 4-0.

Tenth-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic also had an easy time in his opening match as Luca Vanni of Italy retired after Berdych won the first set 6-1.

Alex De Minaur, the fast-rising 17-year-old Australian, defeated 36-year-old Gerald Melzer of Austria 5-7, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-1.

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Croatian Marin Calic, the seventh seed, rallied from a two-set deficit to defeat Poland's Jerzy Janowicz (4-6 4-6 6-2 6-2 6-3).

No. 29-seeded Viktor Troicki of Serbia had to go the distance to eliminate Damir Dzumbur of Bosnia-Herzegovina 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 2-6, 6-3.

Troicki got the service break he needed in the eighth game of the third set to take a 5-3 lead, then served out the match at love, firing an ace on the final point.

No. 19 seed John Isner, of the United States, recorded a 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(5) victory over Russian Konstantin Kravchuk in two hours and 23 minutes, while Australia's Bernard Tomic, the 27th seed, defeated Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci in straight sets (6-2, 6-1, 6-4).

Another American also moved on, as Sam Querrey, the 31st seed, outlasted Quentin Halys of France 6-7(10), 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-4.

Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer were among those who played night matches Monday.

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