Andy Murray on Sunday rallied to win an inter-generational battle against teenager Carlos Alcaraz, reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, along with Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.
Murray, who has touted Alcaraz as a future world No. 1, defeated the talented 18-year-old 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 to set up a meeting with third-seeded German Zverev, who won 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 against the US’ Jenson Brooksby.
Greece’s Tsitsipas, the second seed, advanced in the combined WTA and ATP hard-court event with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Spain’s Pedro Martinez.
Murray, still battling to return from injuries that have seen his ranking fall to No. 121 in the world, raced to an early 3-0 lead before Alcaraz — who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open last month — found his range and regained a break.
After saving a set point, the Spaniard broke Murray for a second time to take the opening set.
In the second set, the former world No. 1 deployed a rare underarm serve on game point for a 2-1 lead, and this time held on.
“I thought if he’s going to stand that far back and I’m getting no love from the court and the conditions, why not try it and see if I can bring him forward a little bit again?” Murray said of the underarm serve — his first in an ATP match.
“Wasn’t expecting, obviously, to get an ace out of it,” he added.
The 34-year-old, who accepted a wild card into the draw, had just eight unforced errors in the second set to Alcaraz’s 14.
He broke 30th-seeded Alcaraz to open the third set, then saved four break points in the next game to maintain the advantage.
A second service break gave Murray a comfortable cushion, and it was the teen requiring late treatment on an injured foot before the oft-injured Murray sealed the victory after three hours and four minutes.
“I felt like in the second set he played maybe better,” Murray said. “First set I felt like I had more of the opportunities but didn’t get it so, yeah, happy with the way I fought.”
In the women’s action, second-seeded Iga Swiatek roared to a 6-1, 6-0 third-round victory over Veronika Kudermetova.
The win came on the anniversary of Swiatek’s victory in last year’s COVID-19-delayed French Open and put her into the round of 16 in her Indian Wells debut.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus continued her upset run with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over 2015 Indian Wells champion Simona Halep of Romania.
Sasnovich, ranked 100th in the world, posted her second straight win over a Grand Slam champion, having stunned crowned US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the second round.
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