INDIAN WELLS, UNITED STATES (AFP) – Former world number one Andy Murray notched a milestone win and United States (US) Open champion Emma Raducanu made a victorious return from injury in a one-two punch for Britain on Friday at the Indian Wells WTA and ATP Masters hardcourt tennis tournament.
Murray, a three-time Grand Slam champion now ranked 88th in the world and playing on a wildcard invitation, rallied after a dismal first set to beat Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the first round.
Raducanu, seeded 11th, reached the women’s third round with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 victory over France’s Caroline Garcia.
Murray claimed the 700th ATP match win of his career.
“Reaching that number is a really, really good achievement,” said Murray, who is one of just four active players to hit the milestone after Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
“It has not been easy getting there,” he added, noting that he had reached 600 match wins in 2016 before his victory rate was slowed in large part by injury.
In the early going, it didn’t look like a landmark day for Murray, who dropped the first set in just 28 minutes.
Unable to convert two early break points, Murray would eventually be broken at love four times before bearing down in the third set to seal the win.
It was another smidgen of revenge against the 106th-ranked Japanese player, who stunned Murray in the second round of the Australian Open before Murray turned the tables in the first round at Doha.
Raducanu got off to a strong start in a match she didn’t expect to be playing when a hip injury forced her out of a match in Guadalajara two weeks ago. Raducanu, who was hindered by a blisters at the Australian Open and was playing just her fifth match of 2022.
“It has been challenging,” said the 19-year-old, who was also slowed by COVID-19 in December. “The injuries, the blisters, I think they were all a knock-on effect of getting COVID and not training for three weeks.”
She got off to a smooth start, opening a 3-0 lead on the way to pocketing the first set in 26 minutes and breaking Garcia in the opening game of the second.
But former world number four Garcia clawed back, winning five straight games to take the set before Raducanu regrouped to cruise through the third.
“She plays extremely powerful and fast,” Raducanu said. “As soon as I let up, she climbed on top of it straightaway. I knew I had to make some adjustments in the third set.”
Raducanu said she crossed paths with Murray as she was taking the court. Seeing him win had only strengthened her own resolve, she said.
“It’s always like a weird one when you’re following someone who has just won,” she said. “You’re like, I really want to do the same. It kind of gives you the extra fuel.”
British qualifier Harriet Dart also advanced, with an impressive 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 comeback over 12th-seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina – her first victory over a top-20 player.
In other women’s action, third-seeded Iga Swiatek of Poland and former world number one Simona Halep battled to three-set victories to reach the third round.
Swiatek dropped the opening set to Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina but lost just one game over the next two sets to triumph 5-7, 6-0, 6-1.
Halep, who lifted the Indian Wells trophy in 2015, defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.
Halep next faces 16th-seeded US teenager Coco Gauff, who held on for a 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) victory over compatriot Claire Liu.
American Alison Riske shocked eighth-seeded Garbine Muguruza of Spain 0-6, 6-3, 6-1, winning 12 of the last 13 games.
Riske said she was “mortified” to find herself down 6-0, 3-0 after less than half an hour.
“I did feel, despite how poorly I was playing, if I could just scrap through a couple game, get myself on the board, I was actually going to have a chance,” she said. “That’s actually how it unfolded. She double-faulted for me to break her serve to go 3-2. I really had a good feeling about that afterwards.
“I do pride myself on always fighting regardless of what the situation is,” Riske said. “I think today was just a prime example of that.”