Andy Murray has regained his alliance and some of his best tennis as he ensured British success at Indian Wells, defeating Adrian Mannarino in their first round match.
Murray followed Emma Raducanu to the main exhibition ground in the California desert after the teenager lost her first game since becoming the US Open champion in sensational style last month.
The 35-year-old fared much better than his compatriot as he delivered the kind of tennis that saw him win Grand Slam tournaments before needing a metal hip in a win 6-3, 6-2 against Frenchman Mannarino.
It was further proof that Murray’s desire to compete at the top of the game may be possible, as the fruits of a series of sustained matches on the ATP Tour begin to show.
Mannarino, ranked 50th in the world, is a tricky opponent but the Scotsman would have to beat him if he is to move up the rankings and he will now have to face a much more difficult test against Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, another teenager who experienced a breakout at the US Open last month.
Perhaps Murray felt comfortable having regained her wedding ring, which was again tied to her laces after she went missing earlier in the week.
Murray’s group were strapped to his shoes, which he left to dry under a car overnight for them to disappear, which sparked a successful social media campaign to see him return.
The Scotsman also found his best tennis by dominating Mannarino from the start.
The decisive moment of the first set came at 2-2 as he produced vintage play as the former world number one converted a backhand lob to a run to set up a break point that was converted after as Mannarino threw a short ball into the net.
Murray served the first set smoothly and was able to strengthen his grip on the game early in the second.
After rejecting two break points, he was able to take Mannarino’s serve in the next game, completing the break with a dazzling serve return.
A double fault gave Murray a second break, allowing him to go through a nervous serve play to claim the victory in a routine style.
Update: October 9, 2021, 7:22 a.m.