Indian Wells, CA – Andy Murray came into this week’s BNP Paribas Open with plenty of rest and ample energy. The Scot spent all of February training and preparing himself for the upcoming masters events in Miami and did not play Dubai this year. This was a scheduling change that was probably brought about because of his poor outing here last year, losing in his opening round match to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez after a deep run in Dubai the week prior.
Murray went down 5-1 in the first set to Russian Evgeny Donskoy before mounting a serious momentum-changing run of four straight games. In a titanic service game from Donskoy, Murray had multiple break points but Donskoy always managed to come up with a forehand or volley winner. Murray was stymied time and time again by big flat serves that sped up due to the high temperatures on court.
But Murray, the great competitor that he is, turned the match into an all out war of the legs. Hitting high-arching groundies, he moved Donskoy until the Russian could only flail at running forehands and stab at backhands. Murray was in his prime form at this point, knocking off easy shots and simply playing the cat and mouse game. Murray held on to win the next two sets decisively 6-2, 6-2 and looks to have worked through the rust that might have developed over February. A much better start for Murray to simply make it through his first match this year but still plenty of tennis to be played.
The ITF has announced the draws for the two Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Zone Group I second round play-off ties taking place on 24-26 October. The two winners of these ties will remain in Zone Group I in 2015, while the two losers will be relegated to 2015 Zone Group II.
The 1987 Wimbledon Champion Pat Cash and the two-time French Open winner Sergi Bruguera have added their names to an all-star line-up in the Statoil Masters Tennis, the IMG-owned and staged event held at the Royal Albert Hall, 3-7 December.
It has been a rough week for Americans in Basel, Valencia, and in Singapore. Steve Johnson lost his Swiss Indoors Basel opener to Milos Raonic 7-6(4), 6-4. John Isner and Stefan Kozlov, the only two USA representatives in the Valencia singles draw, lost in the first round. Even Serena Williams suffered a shocking 6-0, 6-2 defeat to Simona Halep at the women's year-end championship.