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.
Rafael Nadal got in some much-needed match practice on Monday ahead of his first-round singles match at the China Open, albeit in a losing effort. Nadal, who last played at Wimbledon before being sidelined by a wrist injury, teamed up with fellow Spaniard Pablo Andujar and fell to Tomas Berdych and John Isner 7-5, 4-6, 10-4.
Missing among all the great headlines at the Red Rock Pro Open in Las Vegas this week was how the 24-year-old worked her way through the draw without dropping a set, including a dominating performance on Sunday in a 6-1, 6-4 final win over rival Michelle Larcher De Brito of Portugal to capture the $7,600 winner singles check at the USTA Women’s $50,000 Pro Circuit event played at the Red Rock Country Club.
Rafael Nadal's first-round singles match against Richard Gasquet is not on Monday's China Open schedule, but the world No. 2 will be back in action in a different capacity. After being sidelined for three months with a wrist injury, Nadal is teaming up with Pablo Andujar in the doubles draw and they will kick off their campaign against Tomas Berdych and John Isner.
We exaggerate, slightly, but in all likelihood, this will be the week the WTA Race ends. Beijing is worth 1000 points, and it's mandatory, meaning that it's worth about twice as much to the players as every other event. And with the top nine players, minus Li Na, qualifying for Singapore, and a big, big gap between #9 and #10, chances are very good that things will be over after this.