Murray outlasts Daniel at Indian Wells for 700th career win

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Andy Murray outlasted qualifier Taro Daniel 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open for his 700th career victory.

“It does mean a lot to me because I know how difficult it’s been, certainly the last few years,” Murray said, referring to numerous injuries and a bout with COVID-19. “When you look at the players that have done it, most of the players that are up there and have won that many matches are certainly the best players of the last sort of 30, 40 years.”

Murray, who received a wild card into the desert tournament, twice came from behind in the nearly two-hour match. He overcame a 1-3 deficit in the third set, winning five of the final six games.

“There were points in the match where I did play pretty well,” Murray said. “But there’s also times in the match where it was poor. I really need to try and find that consistency.”

Murray broke Daniel to tie the set 3-all. The 34-year-old Scottish star led 40-love in the last game before closing it out on his third match point.

It was their third meeting this year. Ranked 106th, Daniel won at the Australian Open. Murray, who is 88th in the world, won in Doha last month.

Murray has never won at Indian Wells. His best finish came in 2009, when he lost to Rafael Nadel in the final. He was a semifinalist in 2007 and 2015, losing to Novak Djokovic both times.

Emma Raducanu followed Murray on stadium court 1 and beat Caroline Garcia 6-1, 3-6, 6-1. Murray has been supportive of the 19-year-old Brit who won the U.S. Open last year.

They shared a fist bump when Murray exited the court and 11th-seeded Raducanu was waiting to go on.

“It’s always like a weird one when you’re following someone who has just won,” she said. “You’re like, `I really want to do the same.’ It kind of gives you the extra fuel. I was really happy for him.”

In other women’s action, No. 3 Iga Swiatek beat Anhelina Kalinina 5-7, 6-0, 6-1. The first set featured seven combined service breaks. From there, Swiatek dropped just one game.

“I think at the beginning, I was too focused on the conditions. I was a little bit distracted by what was going on with the wind,” Swiatek said on court after the match. “I’m pretty happy that I could turn my hat on to fight mode and really stay focused because that was the key.”

No. 7 Karolina Pliskova served seven aces in losing to Danka Kovinic 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 in her season debut. Pliskova missed the first two months of the year with her arm in a cast from an offseason training injury.

American Alison Riske rallied to beat No. 8 seed Garbine Muguraza 0-6, 6-3, 6-1.

“It was 20 minutes in, I’m nine games down deep. I’m like, I’m ready to leave this court,” Riske said, laughing. “I did feel, despite how poorly I was playing, if I could just scrap through a couple games, get myself on the board, I was actually going to have a chance. That’s actually how it unfolded.”

Qualifier Harriet Dart beat No. 12 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the second round for one of the biggest upsets of her career.

Coco Gauff defeated Claire Liu 6-1, 7-6 (4) in an all-American matchup. Gauff overcame eight double faults, including one on double match point.

Petra Martic beat No. 19 Tamara Zidansek 7-5, 7-6 (6).

Other seeded players who won were Simona Halep, Sorana Cirstea, Liudmila Samsonova and Clara Tauson.

Nakashima takes first ATP Tour title at San Diego

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SAN DIEGO – Brandon Nakashima earned his first ATP Tour victory in his hometown, beating friend and fellow Southern Californian Marcos Giron 6-4, 6-4 in the San Diego Open final.

“It’s super-special, something you dream of, but to have it happen in my hometown with all my friends and family here, it’s a moment I’ll never forget,” said Nakashima, who had two previous finals appearances. “I hope there are many more moments like this to come.”

Nakashima, a 21-year-old who grew up in San Diego and trained extensively at the event’s site as a junior, clinched the opening set in only 30 minutes. The second set, filled with lengthy rallies, took nearly an hour.

Giron, the No. 5 seed and former NCAA title winner from UCLA, wasn’t able to fend off Nakashima’s persistent ground strokes and well-placed serves. Nakashima had eight aces, six in the first set.

Serving at 5-4 in the second set, Nakashima tallied the match’s deciding two points when Giron pushed an easy volley into the net, followed by Nakashima’s second-serve ace.

He earned $93,090, about half of what received for reaching the third round of the U.S. Open in early September.

Nakashima, who was ranked No. 69 on the ATP Tour, moved up to 48, his highest ranking in nearly three years on tour. Despite the loss, Giron moved up to 53 from 58.

Not only was the singles title claimed by an American, the doubles title also taken by an American duo as the second-seeded pair of Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow defeated Australians Jason Kubler and Luke Saville 7-6 (5), 6-2.

The $612,00 event was held at Barnes Tennis Center, which next hosts the $757,900 WTA 500 San Diego Open, Oct. 8-16. That will feature 16 of the world’s top-ranked 20 women pros, led by No. 1 Iga Swiatek.

Frances Tiafoe lifts Team World to 1st Laver Cup win

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LONDON — The last to arrive, befitting his reputation in the locker room, Frances Tiafoe strutted into the post-match news conference after clinching Team World’s Laver Cup victory over Roger Federer’s star-studded Team Europe and shouted, “Champs are here!”

Then the 24-year-old from Maryland joined his teammates at the table where the silver trophy was resting Sunday night, put down a bottle of water, pulled a Budweiser out of his red jacket and smiled that wide smile of his.

Performing with the same infectious showmanship and crunch-time success he displayed en route to his first Grand Slam semifinal at the U.S. Open earlier this month, Tiafoe staved off four match points and came back to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 1-6, 7-6 (11), 10-8, giving Team World its first triumph in five editions of an event founded by Federer’s management company.

“I don’t like losing,” said Federer, a 20-time major champion whose final match before retirement was a loss alongside Rafael Nadal in doubles against Tiafoe and Jack Sock on Friday night. “It’s not fun. It just leaves not the best taste.”

When Tsitsipas put a forehand into the net to end Sunday’s contest – and the three-day competition – Tiafoe dropped his racket and fell to his back on the court, where teammates piled atop him. After getting on his feet, Tiafoe cupped a hand to his ear, asking spectators for more noise, then pointed to his chest and yelled, “I’m him! I’m him!”

“When it becomes a circus out here, and I’m just using the crowd and acting like a little kid and having a bunch of reactions … I end up playing really well and I start building momentum off it,” Tiafoe said. “I’m able to play and function in that better than my opponents, it seems.”

Using the nickname other players gave Tiafoe to reflect the way he embraces big moments, Team World captain John McEnroe said: “Frances is `Prime Time.’ He loves this stuff.”

McEnroe had been 0-4 while leading his squad against his former playing rival, Team Europe captain Bjorn Borg; both indicated they would be back for the 2023 Laver Cup in Vancouver, but that might be their last go-round.

This one served as a celebration of Federer and the 41-year-old Swiss star’s career.

Tiafoe responded with a quip when asked whether he might owe Federer some form of “I’m sorry” for beating him in his finale or for defeating his team, which also included Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray for a total of 66 major singles titles. That, incidentally, is 66 more than Team World, a collection of 20-somethings (Sock turned 30 on Saturday).

“”I’m not going to apologize to him. He’s got a lot to apologize for after the last 24 years – after beating everybody on the tour,” said Tiafoe, who went 0-3 against Federer in singles head-to-head. “I will say thank you for having me in this amazing event, what he’s done for the game. He’s a class act. Happy to know him, happy to call him a friend, happy to call him a colleague, and best wishes in his second act. But I will not apologize.”

Team Europe entered Sunday at O2 Arena with an 8-4 lead; the first team to 13 points would win.

Each match on Day 3 was worth three points, and Team World went ahead thanks to a pair of victories by Felix Auger-Aliassime, a 22-year-old from Canada. He beat Djokovic 6-3, 7-6 (3), after partnering with Sock to edge Murray and Matteo Berrettini 2-6, 6-3, 10-8 in doubles.

Tiafoe then made it 13-8, but it wasn’t easy.

He went a tournament-record 8-0 in tiebreakers at Flushing Meadows this month and was just as resilient Sunday.

“It’s been a long time that Frances has been playing the big guys close and losing a lot of close battles. It’s great to see lately he’s been winning,” said Taylor Fritz, an American who is the same age as Tiafoe and has known him for years. “It’s about time that he steps up and the matches go the other way. Today was a joke.”

That’s because Tiafoe was a single point from losing to Tsitsipas four times in their second-set tiebreaker, but somehow got through that. Then, at 4-all in the concluding match tiebreaker – first to 10, win by two – Tiafoe sprinted from behind the baseline to near the net and barely got to a drop shot by Tsitsipas, somehow lunging to flick an angled winner.

While most of the 16,365 fans went wild, Tiafoe went around the net and stood still, hands on his hips, relishing the atmosphere.

“We put him in the slot that he was in today for a reason,” said Team World’s Tommy Paul, another 24-year-old American, “and he stepped up for us, big time.”