Andy Murray survived a major scare to reach the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open here. The British No 1, hoping to build on his run to the final in Indian Wells last weekend, had to recover from a poor start to defeat Juan Monaco 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Monaco, who turned 25 yesterday, was inspired in the opening set but, having missed a chance to break in the opening game of the second, faded badly as Murray gradually took control in the pair's first meeting on Saturday night.
Monaco created the first opening in the third game, and the world No 59 took advantage on his third break point. The Argentine was playing near faultless tennis and Murray looked frustrated by his failure to break down his opponent and it got worse for Murray in the fifth game as Monaco claimed a second break to love.
The British No 1 saved further break points in the seventh game but then failed to take his one chance to break back as Monaco wrapped up the first set 6-4.
The 21-year-old was on the back foot at the start of the second set as well, the Argentine winning the first three points on Murray's serve. But this time the Scot stood firm. Murray continued to look somewhat ill at ease however, which was surprising given he trains in Miami during the winter and bought an apartment in the city last year. However, he was gradually getting the upper hand and secured the break in the fourth game that enabled him to take the set and level at 1-1 as his opponent struggled to rediscover his form of the opening set.
Murray broke again in the first game of the deciding set but Monaco pulled level immediately. A third successive break gave Murray the advantage again and from there he eased to victory.
"I served really well when I was behind in games," Murray said. "We had a lot of long rallies early on and the conditions here compared with last week are completely different. I had to take a couple of days off after Indian Wells to try to get my body rested and recovered. Last week was the first time I'd played since my virus and I don't want it to come back."
World No 1 Rafael Nadal eased into the third round with a comfortable 6-2, 6-2 win over Teimuraz Gabashvili.