Tennis

Andy Murray rallies to beat rising teen Carlos Alcaraz

Andy Murray came from behind to win an inter-generational battle against teenager Carlos Alcaraz yesterday morning (Singapore time), reaching the third round at the Indian Wells Masters along with Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.

Murray, who has touted Alcaraz as a future world No. 1, defeated the 18-year-old 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 to set up a meeting with third-seeded German Zverev, a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 winner over American Jenson Brooksby.

Greece's Tsitsipas, the second seed, advanced in the combined WTA and ATP hard-court event with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Spain's Pedro Martinez.

Murray, still battling to return from injuries that have seen his ranking fall to No. 121 in the world, raced to an early 3-0 lead before Alcaraz - who reached last month's US Open quarter-finals - found his range and regained a break.

After saving a set-point, the Spaniard broke Murray for a second time to take the opening set.

In the second set, the former world No. 1 deployed a rare underarm serve on game-point for a 2-1 lead, and held on.

"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?" Murray said of the underarm serve - his first in an ATP match.

"Wasn't expecting, obviously, to get an ace out of it," added the 34-year-old Briton, who had just eight unforced errors in the second set to Alcaraz's 14.

Murray, a wildcard entry, broke 30th-seeded Alcaraz to open the third set, then saved four break-points in the next game. A second service break gave Murray a comfortable cushion, as the 18-year-old required late treatment on an injured foot before Murray sealed the victory after three hours and four minutes.

In women's action, second-seeded Iga Swiatek reached the last 16 with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Veronika Kudermetova. Swiatek will meet Jelena Ostapenko next.

Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who stunned US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the second round, continued her run with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over 2015 Indian Wells champion Simona Halep. Her reward is a last-16 clash with another former world No. 1 in Victoria Azarenka.

US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez rallied to beat French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. She meets American Shelby Rogers next. - AFP

Tennis