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Murray up to usual tricks in Indian Wells, wins another final-set marathon

Andy Murray just can’t help himself in 2023. Pretty much regardless of the situation (unless he is playing against Daniil Medvedev and already short on energy), Murray is going to play a marathon match every time he takes the court.

That’s what it feels like, anyway. And it feels like he will continue winning them.

Murray improved to an incredible 7-0 in deciding sets this season when he outlasted Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4 in round one of the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday evening. The 35-year-old Scot recovered from a tough first set and survived some dramatic moments late in the third to prevail after three hours and 12 minutes.

In his last tournament before arriving in Indian Wells, Murray won four three-set matches in a row before finishing runner-up to Medvedev at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha. He saved multiple match points in two of his four victories.

“In some of the matches I managed to win this year, I felt like I was fortunate in some of them, whereas today I really had lots of chances in that third set,” Murray said after beating Etcheverry, the recent Santiago finalist. “I wasn’t getting them and was getting really frustrated. He was coming up with some big serves at times but I also felt like I made some poor decisions as well. The more chances that went by the more you think about it.

“I did really well to keep going in the end…. Another brutal match and glad I managed to get through it.

“I don’t think it is a coincidence, but last year I lost a lot of [these long matches]. I was talking to my team about it, just saying like the law of averages; this can’t keep going. Once I won one I did feel like I would start to feel more comfortable in those situations. Thankfully that’s been the case. Obviously winning all seven, I’m aware that at some stage I’m going to lose one of them.

“I worked very hard in the offseason to put myself in a great position physically, and I feel very motivated. Even when I’ve gotten behind in matches I’ve kept fighting, kept trying to find solutions…. I won some matches that certainly if some of these matches were played last year I wouldn’t have won them.”

For a while it looked like Murray might not win this one. Even after tying up the match at a set apiece, the three-time Grand Slam champion soon found himself serving at 3-4, 15-40 in the third. With Etcheverry on the verge of breaking and serving for the match, Murray saved both break points and won four points in a row to hold. In the next game Etcheverry dug out of a 0-40 hole but eventually double-faulted on break point following four deuces. Murray then served out the match at 5-4, converting his second match point at 40-30.

Next up for Murray on Saturday is Pablo Carreno Busta, who got a first-round bye as the No. 15 seed.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.