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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, March 11, 2022

 
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Andy Murray transformed blow-out into landmark fighting back from a break down to defeat Taro Daniel 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 for his 700th career win Indian Wells.

Photo credit: Getty

Andy Murray hurled massive uppercut and erupted in primal scream of joy.

Former world No. 1 Murray was ecstatic milestone-maker in the desert today.

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Fighter to the finish, Murray battled back from a break down in the final set to defeat Taro Daniel 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 and earn his 700th career victory in his Indian Wells opener.




The 34-year-old Murray is the 18th man in Open Era history to attain the exclusive 700 club. Murray joins Big 3 champions Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer as just the fourth active man to scale the 700 sumit.

Afterward, Murray told the fans in Stadium 1 his goal is to each 800 wins.

"It does mean a lot to me because I know how difficult it's been, certainly the last few years," Murray said. "When you look at the players that have done it, most of the players that are up there and have won that many matches are certainly the best players of the last sort of 30, 40 years.

"Yeah, like to be in amongst that is nice. Like I said, I've looked and I've seen the players that are between 700 and 800, and there's some amazing players that I watched when I was growing up as a kid, some that I'm aware are the best players that ever played the game."

It's landmark that points Murray in elite company.

"I guess when you look at a number like that and you see it's comparable to some of those guys it makes you feel proud of your achievements and the matches that you've won in your career in what's been an incredibly difficult era," Murray said.

Fittingly, it was a sweaty, snarling and ultimately supremely satisfying milestone for Murray.




Facing Daniel for the third time this season, Murray was reeling when he dropped five straight games and the opening set. Daniel broke at love four times then won eight consecutive points to go up 2-0 in the decider.

As he's done so many times throughout his career, a stubborn Murray stepped up and created solutions channeling horrific star into historic finish.

Wild card Murray will face 31st-seeded Alexander Bublik in round two.

A dialed-in Daniel drilled successive winners down the line sealing his second straight love break for 5-1. By then, Murray had won just four points in his first three service games.

Daniel dabbed a drop shot for set points and closed the 29-minute opener on a Murray netted forehand.

The Japanese won 16 of 18 first-serve points, while Murray was a miserable 0 for 6 on second serve points in the set.

The two-time Olympic gold-medal champion adopted more aggressive court positioning and was crunching drives with more menace in the second set.

Tennis Express

Murray cleaned up his act considerably and broke down Daniel's backhand at times bursting out to a 5-0 second set lead and completely changing the tenor of the match.

A clever volley lob brough the Briton triple set point and Murray capped a love hold to seal the second set and force a decider.

Setting aside the second-set lapse, Daniel drained errors to start the decider. When Murray slapped a diagonal forehand into net, Daniel had his fourth love break of the day. Daniel darted through eight straight points opening up a 2-0 lead in the final set.

The sixth game so the most physical point of the match—a grinding 31-shot rally that ended with Daniel looping a topspin forehand winner. Though the Japanese won that battle he paid a price double faulting then forced to defend as Murray hammered a diagonal forehand breaking back for 3-all.

Deadlocked at 4-all, Murray pasted a forehand into the middle of the net to face a break point. Murray, who had failed to save any of the four prior break points, surprised Daniel sliding his serve down the T. Murray found his first serve when he needed it lashing some heavy serves navigating a tricky hold for 5-4.




Looking into the high afternoon sun, Daniel badly bungled a smash off the frame to open the 10th game. Murray worked through a draining baseline rally for love-30, eventually extending to triple match point. Daniel banged a backhand pass down the line a stretched Murray could not control as the Japanese saved the second match point.

On the third, Daniel ballooned a short forehand well beyond the baseline as Murray broke into a smile and thrust his arms in the air.


 

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