INDIAN WELLS: Former world number one Andy Murray made it through another tense match on Thursday, rallying from a set down to beat Tomas Etcheverry and reach the second round of the Indian Wells WTA and ATP Masters 1000.
The Briton, who has made a habit of great escapes this year, needed three hours and 12 minutes to subdue the Argentinian 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-4.
"Some of the matches I´ve played this year I haven´t deserved to win," said Murray, who won a five-setter lasting more than five hours at the Australian Open and in Doha last month overcame eight match points in four matches before falling to Daniil Medvedev in the final.
"Today, I felt like I created so many opportunities and it was one that easily could have got away from me," added Murray, who had eight break chances in the second set.
Murray, grinding back toward the top 40 after hip replacement surgery in 2019, had to fight off two break points himself in the eighth game of the third set.
He needed five chances to get the decisive break in the next game, finally converting when Etcheverry, riding high after reaching the final in Santiago last week, double-faulted.
They arrived at match point after three hours and nine minutes, Murray missing his first chance when his drop shot attempt spun wide. Three minutes later he polished it off with an ace.
Murray improved to 7-0 in decisive sets this year and booked a meeting with 15th-seeded Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta.
After injuries threatened his career, Murray, owner of three Grand Slam titles and two Olympic gold medals, said he wants to enjoy the final act of his career.
"I really want to make the most of these last years that I´ve got," he said. "It´s exciting to see how far I can push this and push my body.
"There are certain things that I would like to achieve before I finish playing and goals that I set myself, but the number one thing is to give my best effort every single day.
"If I do that then I´ll finish my career on a high note."
Murray was one of a string of former Grand Slam winners in first-round action as the 32 men´s and women´s seeds — led by Carlos Alcaraz and Iga Swiatek — enjoyed byes.
Britain´s 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu rallied from a break down in each set to beat Danka Kovinic 6-2, 6-3, avenging a 2022 Australian Open second-round loss to the Montenegrin as she continued her fightback from various ailments that have slowed her 2023 campaign.
"I´m happy I stuck in," said Raducanu, who had shut down her 2022 season early with wrist trouble and hurt her ankle in her second match of 2023 in Auckland.
She pulled out of the WTA event in Austin last week with tonsillitis and withdrew from a pre-tournament exhibition here when her wrist trouble flared up.
But she said the litany of problems only made her more determined.
"I think having something that you are going through kind of gives you in some ways more incentive," Raducanu said. "Like, ´OK, I´ve got to be aggressive or dominate´ — there´s something to really cling onto and use."
France´s Adrian Mannarino rallied for a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) victory over Austrian Dominic Thiem, the 2020 US Open winner who was sidelined eight months after a right wrist injury in 2021.
Thiem had recovered an early break in the third set to force the tiebreaker, which he led 5-3 only for Mannarino to reel off the four points to capture the victory in two hours and 43 minutes.
In a duel of two more former Grand Slam champions, 2020 Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin beat 2017 US Open winner Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-1.
Three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka, with two knee and two foot surgeries behind him and now ranked 100th in the world, defeated Australian qualifier Aleksandar Vukcic 6-4, 1-6, 6-1.
In other matches Thursday, Australian qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis, ranked 94th in the world, booked a second-round clash with top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over US wild card Brandon Holt.
American Ben Shelton defeated Italian veteran Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-1 to set up a meeting with fourth-seeded defending champion Taylor Fritz while on the women´s side American Claire Liu beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 to earn a shot at top seed and defending champion Iga Swiatek.