Britain’s Heather Watson came through a gruelling three-set Miami Open first-round encounter to beat Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands, 6-7 (5-7), 7-5, 6-4 late on Tuesday, breaking a six-year losing run at the WTA 1000 event.
History looked to be repeating itself when the 29-year-old from Guernsey fell behind 4-1 in the second set, but the world number 115 rallied to force a decider against an opponent ranked 40 places above her.
Rus, 31, struggled visibly with injury in the final set, and after three hours and 25 minutes, the British number three prevailed to set up a second-round appointment with 15th-ranked Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, who progressed with a bye. (Watson 11/4, Svitolina 1/4 – Match Betting).
Watson, a four-time event winner on the WTA Tour, fought through to the fourth round in Florida in 2016 but had since failed to win a main-draw match.
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Joining her in the second round is Emma Raducanu; the US Open champion faces the victor of the clash between Canada’s Rebecca Marino and four-time Grand Slam doubles champion Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic.
In the men’s event, wildcard entrant Andy Murray makes his first Miami appearance in six years, facing Argentine Federico Delbonis, ranked 36, on Wednesday for the chance to set up a second-round date with top seed Daniil Medvedev.
The former world number one is back under the tutelage of former coach Ivan Lendl for the third time. Himself an 8-time major winner, Lendl guided Murray to all three of the Scot’s Grand Slam singles wins in 2012, 2013 and 2016.
The appointment sparked much discussion, with Serena Williams’ long-time mentor Patrick Mouratoglou among those to speak publicly on the news.
“I was very surprised that Andy and Ivan started to work together again simply because they broke up two times already,” said the French coach.
“It’s more difficult for him to win a Grand Slam now because of his surgery, but Ivan is probably excited to see Andy’s motivation.”
Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans, Britain’s top men’s pair, both receive byes to the second round, while 20-year-old Londoner Jack Draper, another beneficiary of a wildcard, will face the former if he can navigate past veteran Frenchman Gilles Simon. (Norrie 40/1 – ATP Miami Open 2022).
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