The Scot prevailed 6-7 (5/7) 6-1 6-4 in the Masters 1000 Series event in Indian Wells, but needed to once again show all his fighting qualities against the 23-year-old, saving two break points when 4-3 down in the final set before eventually prevailing in the Californian desert. The 35-year-old, currently ranked 55 in the world, will now play Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta, who seeded 15th for the event. It will be the first time the pair have met and the match will be played on Saturday.
Murray, who has played a number of lengthy matches already in 2023, said: “I've been fighting my hardest. 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 is one of four Brits in the men’s draw. Jack Draper was an easy victor over Swiss qualifier Leandro Riedi and will take on compatriot Dan Evans in the second round. If Murray wins against Carreno Busta, then he will play the winner of that match in the third round. British No 1 Cameron Norrie, a former champion in Indian Wells, is in action on Friday at 7pm when he takes on Wu Tung-Lin of Chinese Taipei in his second-round match.
In the women’s draw, Emma Raducanu marked her injury comeback with a fine 6-2 6-3 win over Danka Kovinic. The 20-year-old’s participation in her first match since losing to Coco Gauff in the second round of the Australian Open in January had been doubt after she revealed the wrist problem she was troubled by last season has 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.
“It was a good match,” said Raducanu. “Danka is an extremely difficult opponent. I was expecting a battle and I am just glad to get through. I am happy I stuck in. Being a break down is obviously difficult, but mentally I just took it one point at a time.”
Looking ahead to her next opponent, Raducanu added: “Magda has had a great season and her results prove that. I am looking forward to the match and happy to be playing another round at Indian Wells.”