NEW YORK (Reuters) -Former world number one Andy Murray survived an early scare to beat American wildcard Emilio Nava 5-7 6-3 6-1 6-0 at the U.S. Open on Wednesday to move into the third round of a Grand Slam for only the second time in five years.
Murray's victory also marked the first time since 2016 that he had reached the third round at Flushing Meadows, where he won his maiden Grand Slam title a decade ago.
The Scot has been attempting to revive his career since hip surgeries threatened to bring it to a premature end and the 35-year-old has shown glimpses of getting back to his best in the first two rounds, dropping only one set so far.
"Physically this is the best I've felt in years... I'm getting closer to where I want to be. Hopefully I can have a deep run here," Murray said in an on-court interview.
Nava is ranked 203 in the world but the 20-year-old, who knocked out John Millman in the first round, showed he belonged further up the ladder with his confident shot-making, winning the big points to take a gruelling first set in 84 minutes.
Murray struggled with his first serve but is always happy to graft in Grand Slams, and broke the inexperienced Nava twice in the second set to level the match after the American made several unforced errors.
That fuelled Murray as he suddenly found his range on serve, tearing through the third set as Nava failed to sustain his levels from the opener and began to fade, giving the resolute Scot the advantage.
With Nava on the ropes, Murray was ruthless with two early breaks to go 4-0 up. Nava nearly got on the board in the fifth game but Murray stood firm to break again before serving out the set.
"I think physically I was stronger than him at the end of the match, which is a really positive thing, obviously. My game improved as the match went on," Murray told reporters.
"My movement around the court is good right now. I feel like it's not that easy for guys to hit winners past me and I'm defending in the corners much better than I was 12 months ago here."
Murray will next meet 13th seed Matteo Berrettini, who beat him in the final of the Stuttgart Open in June. The Italian also dropped the opening set before fighting back to beat Hugo Grenier 2-6 6-1 7-6(4) 7-6(7).
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in BengaluruEditing by Toby Davis)