Andy Murray battled back to win another epic match that went the distance as he beat Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 6-4 in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells on Thursday.
Murray’s victory, which spanned over three hours, means he stays unbeaten this season in matches that have gone to a deciding third or fifth set.
So far in 2023, Murray is 5-0 in best-of-three-set matches to go the duration, along with 2-0 in best-of-five matches that go to five. He is 0-3 in contests that conclude earlier.
The 35-year-old will now face 15th-seeded Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in the next round, with a Murray victory setting up a second-straight all-British clash in the tournament against the winner of Dan Evans and Jack Draper’s meeting.
Murray faced a pair of break points against Etcheverry while serving at 15-40 and already trailing 4-3 in the final set. Convert either of those chances and the Argentinian would have been serving for the match.
But Murray crucially managed to hold, launching a three-game, match-ending run to see him safely through to the next round, serving things out with a sixth ace of the match fired out wide on match point.
“I’ve been fighting my hardest,” Murray said after the contest. “I really want to make the most of these last years that I’ve got.
“I’ve managed to fight through some brutal matches. It’s been incredible really.
“I don’t want it to stop. I know it will at some stage but while it’s going like this, I might as well enjoy it.”
Murray dropped the tight first set and frustration with his play and some of the calls made by the electronic line calling system threatened to boil over.
But like he has so many times in his career, the three-time Grand Slam champion roared back with help from his ferocious forehand in the second set to force the decider which he’d battle through to progress to the next round.
Emma Raducanu marked her injury comeback with a 6-2 6-3 win over Danka Kovinic in the opening round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
Raducanu’s participation in her first match since losing to Coco Gauff in the second round of the Australian Open in January had been in doubt after she revealed the wrist problem she was troubled by last season had returned.
But the British No 1, who withdrew from last week’s event in Texas and an exhibition tournament earlier this week, delivered a composed performance, despite clearly not being at 100 per cent, to progress to the next stage.
Raducanu practised in Indian Wells on Wednesday with strapping on both wrists, but it was the 20-year old’s recent bout of tonsillitis which appeared to be causing her the most discomfort throughout Thursday’s match.
Raducanu lost the opening two games but broke back in the third before capitalising on a string of unforced errors from Kovinic to win six consecutive games and take the opening set in 33 minutes.
However, despite her first-set triumph, Raducanu was struggling with her breathing between points, and lost the first two games of the second set.
Yet, just as in the first, the British star immediately broke back, winning four successive games en route to booking her spot in the next round to claim only her third win of an injury-hit season in one hour and 22 minutes.
She will face Polish player Magda Linette for a place in the third round.