Andy Murray emerged victorious from a real battle of a match against Florian Mayer today to reach round three of the Madrid Masters and claim the 400th ATP World Tour win of his career.
After the match Murray admitted that he had physically struggled through the match, especially during the 23-point first set tie-break, during which he save five set points.
Murray is seeded third in the tournament so received a first round bye and will face 16th seed Gilles Simon in round three.
In only his second clay court match of the season, and first since his comprehensive defeat to Stanislas Wawrinka in Monte Carlo, Murray started well and held serve comfortably throughout the first set.
The British number one, and world number three, was created a break point in Mayer’s second service game, and another two when 4-3 up but he could not take either.
After the Austrian held to make it four games all, the set rolled inevitably towards a tie-break and Murray twice held a mini-break to lead 3-1 and then 4-2.
But he did not lead for long, the world number 26 pegging him back each time and eventually earning set point at 6-5.
As well as the three set points Murray had to save on serve, Maya had two on his own serve.
But Murray managed to save them all and from facing set point on the Austrian’s serve at 11-10, Murray won three points on the spin to take the set which had lasted almost an hour and ten minutes.
Murray would later admit to being out of breath at the end of many of the tie-break points and that seemed to have an effect as Mayer broke him to love at the start of the second.
However, that would be Mayer’s only break, and indeed break point, of the match and despite leading 4-1 in the second, Murray broke back to take the match to a second tie-break.
There was no repeat of the marathon first set breaker, as Murray immediately jumped out to a lead which he never relinquished to win the match 7-6(11), 7-6(3) in two hours and four minutes.
With Djokovic out and Federer, Rafa Nadal and David Ferrer in the other half of the draw, this may be Murray’s best chance at his first ATP World Tour clay-court title.
There is still a long way to go however, with Tomas Berdych the likely quarter-final opponent if Murray beat Simon, which is by no means a given.
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