ndy Murray battled Alexander Zverev every step of the way but was unable to overcome the German third seed at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, falling 6-4 7-6 (4).
The Scottish former world number one began the third round clash in fine form, racing away to an early break before Zverev was able to settle into his rhythm and narrowly take the first set.
The second set began in similar fashion, with Murray again going up a break before allowing Zverev back into the match.
Murray made the most of some uncharacteristic mistakes from Zverev to force a tiebreak, but the 2020 U.S. Open finalist was able to win the crucial points to make it through to the fourth round.
Zverev paid tribute to Murray’s performance in his on-court interview after the match.
“He’s the only one of the Big Four that I hadn’t beaten yet, so I’m happy that I’ve done it today,” he said.
“I always stayed in the match, even though I was down a break in both sets. I always knew I had a chance. Especially the second set I think was an extremely high level from both of us. It could have gone both ways.
“Obviously, it was a fantastic match. I thought Andy played extremely well, maybe as well as he’s played since the (hip) surgery.
“I hope he continues playing the same way, because tennis did miss him for a long time and I think its good to have him back.”
Zverev has set up a round of 16 clash with Gael Monfils, who punched his ticket with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Kevin Anderson.
Greek second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was pushed all the way by Italy’s Fabio Fognini but held on for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win.
Tsitsipas struggled in the first set but was ultimately able to rely on his service game to get across the line, picking up 10 aces to just one for Fognini.
American Taylor Fritz pulled off the upset of the day, cruising past Italian fifth seed Matteo Berrettini in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.
Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili fought back from a dropped first set to defeat Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 in a marathon two hours and 23 minutes.
Karen Khachanov of Russia faced little pressure as he eased past Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 6-0, 6-4, while Australia’s Alex de Minaur downed Chile’s Cristian Garin 6-4, 6-2.