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.
Emotion. If there was one word which summed up two weeks of intense, demanding and often brilliant tennis at the BNP Paribas Open that was it. Arms froze; hands shook, tears flowed and even the occasional scream could be heard from the sidelines as players tried to gather themselves and release the tension that was building up inside taught and tired bodies.
Well it’s all over for another year, but what a year this was. First of, of course there was Serena. Her come-back was warm, her play in the first match was maybe decidedly lukewarm but it was enough to get her through to the semi-finals...