- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 24, 2009

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) | Andy Murray got off to a winning start Monday at the Dubai Tennis Championships, a tournament missing many top players who are either boycotting or injured.

Andy Roddick, who won at Memphis on Sunday, withdrew to protest the Emirates’ decision not to grant Israeli player Shahar Peer a visa to compete in last week’s women’s event. Israeli Andy Ram was granted a visa and is scheduled to play doubles this week.

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the top two players in the world, pulled out with injuries, and Nikolay Davydenko and Fernando Verdasco aren’t playing, either.

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Murray advanced when Sergiy Stakhovsky retired while trailing 6-7 (3), 6-3, 5-3. Both players were bothered by ankle injuries, but Stakhovsky could not finish the match. He called it quits with the fourth-ranked Murray leading 30-0 in the ninth game.

“It was a bit strange with both of us struggling with our ankles toward the end of the match, but he was aggressive, fought very well and hit some unbelievable volleys,” Murray said. “I think I tweaked my ankle about an hour-and-a-half into the match. I have got to see the physio now. The ankle was feeling a lot better during practice, but I was wearing braces then.”

Qualifier Marco Chiudenelli of Switzerland also advanced, beating seventh-seeded Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 7-6 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (7). Fourth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain defeated Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, and fifth-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia rallied to beat Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia 2-6, 7-6, 6-4.

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