Former world number one Andy Murray rallied after a dismal first set, beating Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel in the first round at Indian Wells on Friday to claim a 700th win in the ATP Tour match. Murray, a three-time Grand Slam champion who now ranks 88th in the world and played on a wildcard invite, was broken in love four times but held out for a bleak 1-6, 6-2, 6- 4 win in the first round of the prestigious ATP Masters tournament. It was his second win in three games this year against Daniel, who stunned Murray in the second round of the Australian Open before the Briton turned the tables in the first round in Doha.
Murray, who reunites with coach Ivan Lendl in a bid to regain championship form after years marked by injuries and indifferent results, is now one of only four active players to have won 700 tour games, along with Roger Federer (1,215), Rafael Nadal (1043) and Novak Djokovic (991).
“Achieving that number is a very, very good achievement,” Murray said.
“It wasn’t easy to get there,” he added, noting that he had racked up 600 race wins in 2016 before his win rate was largely slowed down by injury.
“Five and a half years to get to the last hundred, so it took a while,” he said.
Murray said it’s the kind of statistic he wouldn’t have paid too much attention to early in his career.
“I’m looking at that stuff now,” he said. “As I look at the other players around me, around those numbers. (It) gives me some motivation and encouragement to try and get higher and win more matches.
“If you look at the players that have done it, most of the players that are out there and have won so many games are definitely the best players of the last thirty, forty years.
“Being in between is nice.”
The signs were not favorable for him to reach the milestone as Daniel raced through the opening set in 28 minutes, while Murray claimed just four points on his serve.
But Murray reacted in the second and gave himself a 5-0 lead before Daniel managed to hold on to his serve.
Daniel then broke him to love again before Murray broke back to force a decisive set.
Daniel got a quick hand with another break to love in the opening game of the third but Murray tied the set with a break for 3-3 and after a tense hold for 5-4 Daniel broke in again for the win his third game point.
The win is a morale boost for Murray, who said his ability to maintain a positive attitude was a major distraction from the game.
“To be honest, I didn’t play well,” he said. “Obviously there has been the physical struggle, but also the mental struggle, to find my game, to be patient and not get too frustrated and too down with myself, which has been tough the last four or five months.
“It will take some time on the practice field to work on. I’m looking forward to working on that with Ivan after the tournament in Miami, I will train with him there in Orlando.”
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