- ATP Tour
Murray digs deep to deal with dogged Mayer
Andy Murray huffed and puffed his way to victory in his opening match at the Mutua Madrid Open, beating Florian Mayer 7-6(11) 7-6(3) to book his spot in the third round.
Tuesday's triumph was his 400th victory on the ATP Tour, but Murray was certainly made to work for it by a determined opponent who frustrated him throughout the contest.
"He's very different to every other player on the tour," Murray said of Mayer afterwards. "He's very unorthodox, and he can play almost every shot."
The world No. 3, playing just his third match on clay this season, was left panting by the midpoint of the first set as a string of lengthy exchanges with the German under the evening sun at the Caja Magica took their toll.
Murray has not been beyond the quarter-finals since the Madrid Masters became a clay-court event in 2009, missing last year's event through injury, and found himself scrambling as often as dictating the rallies against the awkward world No. 26, with neither player able to break the deadlock.
The pattern continued in the ensuing tie-break until Mayer fired a backhand long to hand Murray a 4-2 lead, only for the Scot to fire a forehand into the net while serving at 5-3. Nothing could separate the duo through 20 points before a Murray double-fault - the first of the match - handed Mayer set point on his own serve.
As if from nowhere, Murray was spurred into action, rattling off the next three points to rescue the set, finishing another marathon rally with a flourish as he fired a forehand winner.
The second set ended in similar fashion but got there in an altogether different fashion, with breaks no longer an extinct commodity. It was Mayer, perhaps unsurprisingly, who got the first - racing into a 4-1 lead as the the match looked destined for a decisive third set.
But Murray, once again, steeled himself and bounced back - drawing level at 4-4 before the contest eventually proceeded to another tiebreak.
The Scot remained on top in the breaker, but clinching that all-important match point proved as difficult as many of those that had come before it - Murray forced to fire down three second sets (the first two proving to be lets) before finally beating the German with a backhand down the line.
"[My performance] was good, I just didn't read his serve well," Murray added afterwards. "I had a lot of chances [on his serve], but he would ace me or I wouldn't read the return. That is the only thing I would have liked to have done better.
"I moved way, way better than in Monte Carlo [when he lost early on]."
Murray will now face Gilles Simon in the third round, after Simon defeated fellow Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.