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Andy Murray's unconvincing start to the 2013 season continued as he struggled past Australian qualifier John Millman in the first match of his Brisbane International title defence.

The top seed and defending champion began his year with a 6-1 5-7 6-3 victory over Millman, but must improve if he is to wrestle the Australian Open crown from Novak Djokovic – who is overwhelming favourite to retain his title according to tennis betting news writers.

Murray, who lost to Janko Tipsarevic at the season-opening Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi last week, won the opening set at a canter with three breaks of serve.

Millman responded in determined fashion in front of his home crowd and broke in the seventh game of the second set. The world number 199 missed an opportunity to level the match when serving at 5-4 but made no mistake in his next service game.

Murray appeared uncomfortable in the searing Queensland heat and could be seen nursing his back and calf. He dug deep, however, to break in the sixth game before serving out the match to clinch a last-eight tie with Denis Istomin, who beat home favourite Lleyton Hewitt in straight sets.

While Murray has been below par in his first two matches of the new season, he will not be panicking. As noted by plenty of betting news writers, the British number one was well short of his best in the build-up to Wimbledon last summer but got his game in order and enjoyed a hugely successful second half of the year. He will be confident of producing his best form at Melbourne Park later this month.

Elsewhere in Brisbane, second seed Milos Raonic suffered a second-round defeat to Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov, while number seven seed Jurgen Melzer advanced at the expense of David Goffin of Belgium.
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