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Aug 08, 2007 at 06:01pm IST

Djokovic, Stepanek, Murray advance at Montreal

Montreal: Third seed Novak Djokovic opened his title bid at the Montreal Masters with an impressive 6-3, 6-3 win over Germany's Nicolas Kiefer in the second round on Tuesday.

The Serb, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon last month, took the first set thanks to one service break and two more in the second set sealed victory in 83 minutes.

Djokovic, who won his first Masters Series crown in Miami earlier this year, will next meet either 16th seed David Ferrer of Spain or Argentina's David Nalbandian.

IN NEXT ROUND: Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns against Germany's Nicolas Kiefer in Montreal.

The 20-year-old Djokovic was forced to retire at Wimbledon with an injured toe but a few weeks off seem to have done the trick.

"For a week I was off," he said.

"I managed to heal my injuries, the foot, the back, (the) shoulder. "I'm trying to physically be ready for the US Open Series because I feel confident and I showed my quality on this surface, in Indian Wells and Miami. I showed that I can play really good tennis, especially on this surface. I expect some good results in these couple of tournaments."

Sixth seed Fernando Gonzalez was dumped out, though, beaten 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 by Czech Radek Stepanek.

At 4-4 in the deciding set, Stepanek saved three break points and then broke the Chilean in the next game to clinch the match.

Successful return

Briton Andy Murray enjoyed a successful return after 12 weeks out with a right wrist injury, while ninth seed James Blake set up an intriguing second-round battle with Lleyton Hewitt after he beat Austrian Juergen Melzer 7-5, 7-6.

Murray, the 13th seed, enjoyed a brisk workout during his 6-4, 6-4 win over American Robby Ginepri.

"More than anything, I was just looking forward to playing matches instead of training every single day because that's the hard thing," Murray said.

Murray said it had been hard to miss the French Open and Wimbledon but that there was a positive side.

"I got to get much stronger in my upper body and did a lot of core exercises and weight training. I got to spend much more time with my friends and family than I would have done if I was travelling. They were the good things that came out of it."

Blake wasted numerous chances to break Melzer's serve before finally converting on his 10th opportunity to lead 6-5 and then served out for the opening set.

The second set was just as tight but the American snatched the tie-break 7-4 to earn his meeting with Hewitt.

Former world No. 1 Marat Safin also advanced to the second round when his opponent, Swede Robin Soderling, retired early in the first set because of injury.

The Russian will now play second seed Rafael Nadal of Spain, while top seed Roger Federer will begin his campaign on Wednesday against big-serving Croat, Ivo Karlovic, who beat Max Mirnyi of Belarus 4-6, 6-3, 7-6.

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