On Friday evening, Murray defeated Taro Daniel in three sets to record his 700th men’s tour career win. He joins a club already occupied by the three principal opponents in his career in Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and has ticked off something on his career bucket list.
Murray, now 34 and ranked 88 in the world, has also set himself a slightly more challenging target of 50 singles titles. He is currently on 46. Despite making the final of the Sydney Classic back in January, that total does feel ambitious, given that he has toiled to put together a consistent run of form without going the distance in all of his matches.
Making the second round of this week’s BNP Paribas Open in California is the least Murray expects of himself. Despite his decorated career, Murray has never won this event, and has suffered some surprise defeats (Donald Young in 2011, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in 2012). His only appearance in the final came 13 years ago when he was soundly defeated by Nadal. The slow, windy conditions don’t suit him, although he is helped by the withdrawal of Novak Djokovic in his section of the draw. Alexander Bublik, seeded 31, is up next for Murray on Sunday. The Scot defeated him in Rotterdam last month.
“Novak not being here opens up an opportunity in the section, but I have Bublik next and he has had a very good start to the season and is not an easy guy to play,” said Murray.
“He’s a very unorthodox player, he’s unbelievably talented, has great hand skills, can play all the shots and plays very differently compared to a lot of guys on the tour.
“He takes a lot of risks, and he’s started this year well. It’s not going to be easy but if I play well I’ve got a shot.”
British men’s hopes at the business end of tournaments rest largely with Cameron Norrie, who burst on to the scene by winning Indian Wells last year. He is due to face Pedro Martinez on Saturday at 10pm GMT. While he has Scottish roots and is firmly entrenched in the top 20, he hasn’t quite caught the British public’s imagination. However, him and fellow top 30 player Dan Evans are flying the flag well.
On the women’s side of the draw, US Open champion and teenager Emma Raducanu is into the third round after she put in the hard yards to overcome Caroline Garcia. She was also joined by Harriet Dart, whose three-set triumph over Elina Svitolina came as a huge surprise.
Raducanu will continue to be the great hope for British tennis in the future and, back in America for the first time this year, she looks ready to rediscover some of her best form again.
"I thought the level of tennis was pretty high,” Raducanu said of her win over Garica.
"I knew I had to make some adjustments in the third set so I'm really happy that I was able to work that out in the match and come through a tough one."
Raducanu and Dart are both in action on Sunday, against Petra Martic and Kaia Kanepi respectively.