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Aussie males, Murray start Indian Wells well

Jordan Thompson and John Millman have pulled off strong first-round wins at the prestigious Indian Wells tournament as fellow Australian Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis resumed their successful doubles act.

World No.78 Thompson rallied from a set down to defeat seasoned Belgian David Goffin 4-6 7-5 7-6 (7-3) and will next face 33rd seed Grigor Dimitrov next.

World No.77 Millman overcame powerful German Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 to earn a second-round clash with good friend and Australian No.1 Alex de Minaur, who enjoyed a first-round bye.

Kyrgios is also in the second round, facing Argentina’s Federico Delbonis, after winning his singles opener a day earlier.

Granted a wildcard entry for the tournament in the California desert, Australian Open doubles champions Kyrgios and Kokkinakis repaid the organisers with a typically entertaining 7-5 1-6 10-2 win over Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo to reach the round of 16.

They next face Americans John Isner and Jack Sock, another wildcard pair that accounted for the top seeds in the opening round.

Much of the international interest in the men’s singles draw on Friday centred on former world No.1 Andy Murray, who claimed his 700th career victory by outlasting qualifier Taro Daniel 1-6 6-2 6-4 in the first round.

The 34-year-old Murray, who received a wildcard into the 1000 Masters event, 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.

The Brit now joins Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic as the only active players in the exclusive 700 club.

“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.

The match marked Murray’s first appearance since confirming he is to link up with Ivan Lendl for a third time, and the duo will have plenty to work on after a first set in which the Scot was distinctly second best against Daniel.

“I’m old now so these 11am starts, it takes me a bit of time to get going,” Murray joked in his post-match interview.

“But Taro played extremely well. He’s started the year very well

“He’s a very unorthodox player. He’s unbelievably talented, got great hand skills and plays different to a lot of guys on the Tour these days.

“I managed to start to improve as each set went on.”

Murray has never won at Indian Wells. His best finish came in 2009, when he lost to Rafael Nadal in the final.

He was a semi-finalist in 2007 and 2015, losing to Novak Djokovic both times.

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