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Andy Murray overcomes Taro Daniel to advance in Indian Wells, picks up match win No. 700

Andy Murray of Great Britain reacts after his win against Taro Daniel of Japan during the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 11 March 2022. EPA-EFE/RAY ACEVEDO

By Ricky Dimon

It has been a long road for Andy Murray to get from 600 to 700 career match wins on the ATP Tour, so it’s only fitting that he had to reach another century mark the hard way.

Murray recovered from a disastrous start and also battled back from a break down in the third set to overcome familiar foe Taro Daniel in round one of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday afternoon. The Scot prevailed after one hour and 58 minutes in what was already the third meeting between these two players in 2022. Daniel rolled to an easy 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 upset at the Australian Open and then Murray cruised 6-2, 6-2 in Doha.

The proverbial rubber match was much more of a roller-coaster ride. Daniel issued a breadstick in the opening set only to see Murray race to 5-0 lead in the second. After the 34-year-old finished off the middle frame of play 6-2, Daniel turned the momentum back on his side by taking the first two games–and first eight points–of the decider. Murray eventually broke back for 3-3 before the final turning point came with him serving at 4-4. Daniel earned a break point at 30-40, but Murray managed to hold. With the pressure on at 4-5, the Japanese veteran failed while serving to stay in the match.

Andy Murray of Great Britain in action against Taro Daniel of Japan at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 11 March 2022. EPA-EFE/JOHN G MABANGLO

“Probably getting to No. 1 in the world (means the most),” Murray said when asked about important milestone numbers in his career. “I mean, just purely in terms of a number, that would be…it [was] a big highlight in my career to get there.

“I wouldn’t say during my career I was focused necessarily on match wins, sort of numbers and things like that. However, as I’ve sort of got older, you’re coming towards the end of your career, there’s certain milestones, something, that would be something nice to achieve. Obviously not many players have managed to [reach 700]. Obviously with all the difficulties of the last few years and everything, I was on course to get there quite a few years ago. It’s been tough.

“Yeah, reaching that number is a really, really good achievement. It’s not been easy getting there. [ATP statistician Greg Sharko] was telling me I got to 600 in Cincinnati in 2016–five and a half years to get the last hundred, so it’s taken a while. Yeah, I do look at that stuff now. Like, I do look at the other players that are around me–around those numbers. (It gives me some motivation and encouragement to try to get higher and win more matches.”

Murray will look to begin a trek toward 800 when he goes up against Alexander Bublik in the second round on Sunday.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.