Andy Murray, 34, with just an underarm serve with for the first time in his professional career as he plays against Carlos Alvarez Indian Wells Open.
Murray pulled off one of the best wins of his comeback over the rising star Alvarez, and with an underarm serve help launch a stirring comeback with points from his 5-7 6-3 6-2 in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
It was undeniably a big win for Murray — slam champion, who has been competing well against top players in recent weeks without managing to come out on top.
“Obviously I’m happy,” said Murray.
“My body did well today. It was hard conditions. It was very hot. Because of the nature of the court here, you’re going to play some long rallies, especially against a player like him.
“At times I played some really good tennis. It wasn’t my best match. I can certainly still do things better. I thought I competed well today, which was probably the most pleasing part for me.”
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Murray produced a vintage performance amid brutal heat in the Californian desert, wearing down the talented teenage Spaniard both physically and mentally for a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 victory over the course of three hours.
Alcaraz, 18, made his grand slam breakthrough at the US Open with a run to the quarter-finals before retiring with a thigh injury and had not played a match since.
The 34-year-old though was struggling to deal with his opponent’s ability at times but had no problem physically hanging in long rallies, but second set with an underarm ace.
Murray said: “I thought if he’s going to stand that far back and I’m getting no love from the court and the conditions, why not try it and see if I can bring him forward a little bit again? Wasn’t expecting obviously to get an ace out of it.”
“I was thinking about using it at times in the third set, but obviously (I was) up in the score, was doing a little bit better, didn’t feel like I needed to. Certainly when guys are standing there to return serve now, it’s a smart play.”
Murray has won both of his previous matches against the German, in the Western & Southern Open in New York last year.
“Obviously the match that we played last year, not saying he was playing his best tennis at that stage, but he did make the final of the US Open a couple of weeks later,” said Murray.
“I wasn’t physically feeling particularly good and did not play particularly well, but managed to win. From that perspective, I can gain confidence from that, that if I play a really good match I’ll be right in there with a shot.”
“He’ll certainly go in as the overwhelming favourite. But, if I play a high-level match, I’ll be right in there.”