Andy Murray finally exorcised his Indian Wells demons by registering his first victory at the BNP Paribas Open since 2010. However the US Open champion had to navigate his way through a tricky and testing afternoon before showing his undoubted class to overcome young Russian Evgeny Donskoy.
Murray had not played a competitive singles match since losing the Australian Open to Novak Djokovic six weeks earlier and it showed against the 22 year-old from Moscow who has only recently graduated from the second tier Challenger tour. But 83rd ranked Donskoy’s impressive opening onslaught that put a distinctly nervous Murray on the back foot was not permanent and the third seed eventually came through 5-7, 6-2, 6-2.
After losing to 143rd ranked Donald Young in his initial match at Indian Wells in 2011 and then falling at his first hurdle again last year against Spain’s world no.72 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, there was bound to be a degree of anxiety from the Scot.
For more than a half hour the fact Murray’s last match on an American hard court was his US Open final triumph seemed irrelevant. Such success seemed a distant memory as Murray struggled to find any rhythm and slumped to a 5-1 deficit in the first set.
Murray’s explanation was a simple case of ring rust and although he has been practicing on the tournament site for more than a week, he required time to reacclimatize himself to match play conditions. “I was not that concerned and after that I thought I played pretty well,” said reigning Olympic gold medalist Murray who now goes forward to confront another former nightmare in the form of Chinese Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu, the 29 year-old who sent him packing from the first round of the Beijing Games in 2008.
Surprisingly the pair have not met since but Murray believes his long overdue win against Donskoy should purge any problems in his game. “Somewhere in the back of my mind there was the knowledge I lost my first match in the last two years here so it made me feel a little bit nervous,” said Murray. “But I used to love playing here and the conditions suit me so hopefully things are now going to improve.
“I hope I can play better each match. I have been hitting the ball well in practice but nothing beats getting onto the match court . For the last couple of years I’ve struggled here and didn’t know why. Now I think I can get my game moving again.”
©Daily Tennis News Wire