- ATP Tour
Murray overcomes scare to end Indian Wells hoodoo
Andy Murray successfully won his second round contest in the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday, but not before sparking fears of a third-successive opening match exit at Indian Wells.
Murray, who enjoyed a bye through the first round earlier in the week, had lost his opening match on his last two visits to the California tournament, and it looked like that disappointing fate might be in store once again after he lost the first set to relatively unheralded Russian Evgeny Donskoy.
But the Scot seemed to have worked out his world No. 83 opponent towards the end of that stanza, and that proved to be the case as he eventually completed a confidence-boosting 5-7 6-2 6-2 victory.
"I've been playing sets in practice, but nothing beats getting on a match court," Murray noted. "I was definitely nervous, but I just need to get a few matches under my belt."
The victory might have put to bed some sour memories for the Scot. In 2011, his Indian Wells defeat to Donald Young saw him spiral into a funk that he struggled to escape from before Wimbledon, while 12 months ago Murray was left bemused by his defeat to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez after feeling confident going into the tournament.
This time around Murray admitted to some rustiness, having not played since the Australian Open final defeat to Novak Djokovic to start the year. Whether it was that lack of match practice or the ghost of defeats past, Murray certainly started in a tentative, uncertain manner - as Donskoy attacked him at any opportunity and profited from a misfiring backhand to race into a 5-1 advantage.
Murray somehow brought the scoreline back to 5-5 after some improved play but, after contriving to miss a third successive break despite creating a number of openings, Donskoy punished the world No. 3 with a surprise break that saw him clinch the opening set.
That success was greeted with a huge roar from the Russian, but Murray seemed to have taken heart from his earlier revival - even if in the end it failed - and soon was playing more like his usual self.
Donskoy maintained his high energy play but suddenly his winners were to stay in games rather than to win them, as Murray picked apart his serve and clinched break after break to secure the second set and duly ensure a third.
In that decider Donskoy rarely gave Murray an easy time on his own service games, but an early break for the reigning US Open champion gave him more than enough breathing space to avoid getting tight and opening the door for another late twist.
Another break soon followed, as Murray raced towards the conclusion - serving out the tournament after falling 0-40 down to finally get another win at Indian Wells and move into the third round.
"I hope I play better each match," Murray added. "Last couple of years I really struggled here and did not quite know why. It does make you a little bit nervous, but I just need matches under my belt."