Andy Murray’s incredible run of epic matches continued on Thursday at Indian Wells where he took 3 hours and 12 minutes to beat Argentina’s Tomas Martin Etcheverry.
Murray has played seven deciding sets in ten matches this season – and perhaps more amazingly, he has won all seven deciding sets despite being 35 years old and equipped with a metal hip.
Even before this tournament, he averaged 3 hours and 4 minutes per game in 2023. And that figure is now up by another minute after his 6-7, 6-1, 6-4 victory over the impressive Etcheverry.
It was a frustrating evening at times, as Murray had multiple chances to break Etcheverry’s powerful serve – which had a top speed of 130 mph – only to see aces fly past him time and time again. From 20 breakpoints, his conversion rate was only 20 percent.
Still, he kept his wits about him when tensions ran high in the closing stages. His resilience is all the more remarkable when you consider that his 2022 season was marked by cramping.
“In some of the games I managed to win this year, I felt like I was lucky,” Murray told Amazon Prime.
“While today I had a lot of chances in that third set, and I didn’t get them. I got very frustrated, he would sometimes come up with some big service calls, but I also felt like I was making some bad decisions.
“The more chances go by, the more you start to think about it, but I was lucky that he hit the double fault at the end. [which gave Murray the crucial break in the penultimate game]. Another brutal match and I’m glad I got through it.
When asked if he could explain this series of marathon matches, which was unprecedented in his career, Murray replied that he had some narrow victories to thank for having played numerous close matches against him last season.
But it wasn’t just luck. Murray also changed his attitude. In the second half of last year, he was well below his usual work rate.
He even admitted in November – after a grueling defeat to old foe Gilles Simon – that he hadn’t been to the gym in over a month.
That all changed once he arrived in Miami in December for a ferocious three-week boot camp.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” Murray said. “Last year I lost a lot [of close matches]. I talked to my team about it and I said, “The law of averages says this can’t go on.” And once I won one, I felt like I was going to feel more comfortable in those situations. Fortunately, that has been the case, although I am aware that I will lose one at some point.
“I worked really hard off-season,” Murray added. “I put myself in a great position physically and I feel very motivated, so even if I fell behind in these games I kept fighting. Certainly if some of them had been played last season I wouldn’t have won so credit to some hard work off season and also to my team for pushing me.
Murray now takes on Pablo Carreno Busta, a two-time US Open semifinalist, in the second round. Oddly enough, this is their first competitive meeting, even though these guys have both been knocking on the tour for a while.