- ATP Tour
Murray dumped out by dogged Del Potro
Murray, who surprisingly lost his opening matches at Indian Wells in both 2011 and 2012, started well against the Argentinian, but was overwhelmed as the contest wore on and was eventually blown away in a 6-7(5) 6-3 6-1 defeat.
"It was a tough match,'' Murray said. "He played like someone that's won a lot of matches recently."
Murray, the third seed, was perhaps expected to win the contest - holding a 5-1 head-to-head advantage over Del Potro in their career meetings - but his opponent consistently punished him with some powerful forehands.
After saving two break points in the opening game of the contest, Murray settled into a groove as both players held with little difficulty - sending the stanza to a tiebreak. It was a tiebreak that Murray would edge, claiming the set after eventually finding the winning shot in a momentous 43-stroke rally.
Having missed out on a break to start the contest Del Potro made no such mistake to begin the second set, a turn of events that seemed to give him a renewed confidence. The former US Open champion rode that advantage to take the second set, moving the quarter-final into a decider.
Murray would be the first to create a break opportunity in the third, but Del Potro saved it with a booming second serve - and then broke himself at the very next opportunity after Murray let some untimely errors slip into his game.
Another break soon followed and, after two successive double faults from Murray, Del Potro took the victory in just over two-and-a-half hours.
"I played my best match of the tournament. I was positive all the time, even when I lost the first set, [a] tough first set,'' Del Potro said. ''I was aggressive all the time, I'm hitting the ball hard all the time with my forehands, and I play a few slices as well and drop shots.''
"It was very hot; there were a lot of long rallies," added Murray. "Sometimes if your legs are just a little bit tired you can miss serves. The timing might go off a little bit and you're not quite getting up to them. That's maybe what happened today."
Del Potro will now face Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals on Saturday.