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Andy Murray reaches 2nd round at Sydney Tennis Classic

TENNIS: JAN 11 Sydney Classic

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 11: Andy Murray of Great Britain celebrates winning his match at the Sydney Classic Tennis match between Viktor Durasovic of Norway and Andy Murray of Great Britain at Ken Rosewall Arena on January 11, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Steven Markham/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

SYDNEY -- Five-time Australian Open finalist Andy Murray advanced to the second round of the Sydney Tennis Classic by beating Viktor Durasovic 6-3, 6-1.

Murray entered the tournament with a wild card and has also been handed one for next week’s Australian Open. Since he last reached the Australian Open final in 2016, when he lost to Novak Djokovic, the 34-year-old Murray has only made it past the first round once at Melbourne Park.

Recurring hip injuries have meant he has played only one of the past four Australian Opens. The former No. 1-ranked player is now 135th.

The three-time Grand Slam champion forced Durasovic into numerous errors.

“I was hoping to get the matches in Melbourne,” Murray said, referring to a first-round loss last week. “That didn’t happen but thankfully Tennis Australia gave me the wild card to play here. I’m very grateful for that and hopefully I can be here for a few more days.”

Murray will next face 23rd-ranked Nikoloz Basilashvili for a place in the quarterfinals.

Also in Sydney, U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu lost to ninth-seeded Elena Rybakina 6-0, 6-1. The 19-year-old Raducanu had delayed the start of her season, withdrawing from the Melbourne Summer Set last week following her bout with COVID-19.

Olympic champion Belinda Bencic made a successful but “wobbly” start to the 2022 season in her first match since being struck down by COVID-19. Bencic beat Brazilian qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the second round in Sydney.

“I was struggling a little bit, getting to practice after COVID because the pulse was getting up and the fatigue was still there,” Bencic said. “I think I still have room to feel better and my fitness has to get better. I still feel a little bit wobbly.”

At the Adelaide International, second-ranked Aryna Sabalenka lost another first-round match at an Australian Open tune-up tournament to a much lower-ranked opponent.

Sabalenka lost Rebecca Peterson of Sweden 5-7, 6-1, 7-5. Peterson came into the match ranked No. 395. Last week in the opening round of the first Adelaide International tournament, Sabalenka lost to 100th-ranked Kaja Juvan 7-6 (6), 6-1.

In other first-round matches in Adelaide, Madison Brengle beat Anastasia Potapova 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 and fourth-seeded Tamara Zidansek defeated Heather Watson 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (4).